Freedom and constraint: it’s a magnetic play-off consistently explored in the charged photography of Nobuyoshi Araki, his explicit images of rope-bound women mixing pleasure and pain with high voltage intensity. It was Araki’s aesthetic that fed the sexy undercurrent surging through Simone Rocha’s SS14 collection, heralding the designer’s return to seduction. “I wanted it to be more provocative … to evoke another feeling,” Rocha explained post-show.
Pearls ran wild; forming tightly bound coils around models necks, reminiscent of Araki’s strapped and bound subjects
Pearls ran wild; forming tightly bound coils around models necks, reminiscent of Araki’s strapped and bound subjects. They edged gashes torn in drop-waist skirts and formed miniature floral detail on sheer gartered socks, satin sandals and the brogues that have become a Rocha mainstay. The presence of these jewels – historically linked with a prim and proper affectation – across a highly sexualised collection was a captivating nod to the way Araki has used his photography to challenge his own culture’s constraints and hypocrisies.
Araki’s Kinbaku series is his most controversial and the one Rocha closely referenced after experiencing it in the flesh at Michael Hoppen Contemporary earlier this year. She gracefully translated his vision to her designs: skirts were split and tattered, mirroring the rigid kimonos Araki splayed open to reveal his subjects’ bound breasts and flailing legs.
skirts were split and tattered, mirroring the rigid kimonos Araki splayed open to reveal his subjects’ bound breasts and flailing legs
“Women? Well they are gods. They will always fascinate me. As for rope, I always have it with me. Even when I forget my film, the rope is always in my bag. Since I can’t tie their hearts up, I tie their bodies up instead,” Araki explains. “I squeeze the passion from inside, then an emotion something similar to love comes out from me as well: in other words, I tie up the bond between us.”
Just as Araki’s works asked, “What is beauty?”, Rocha yesterday queried our traditional notions of the erotic. Heavy, masculine footwear accompanied solid PVC coats and loose waistlines. Translucency reigned supreme with sheer fabric forming kinky stay-up stockings. Nipples peered boldly out of blouses while wet look lace made for a starchy take on fetishistic materials.
Rocha queried our traditional notions of the erotic
Rocha is no stranger to the kinky with rubber, plastic and laminated leather having become somewhat of a staple across earlier collections – notwithstanding last season. AW13’s pretty-in-pink tribute to Rocha’s grandmothers was a welcome change and made SS14’s darker edge all the more palatable.
After all, it’s Rocha’s own play offs that make her an increasingly alluring designer. Re-appropriating traditional associations affiliated with masculine and feminine garments, she brings her own sassy interpretation to the mix. It’s this ability to balance hard with soft; sexy with modest that aligns her most strongly with the likes of Araki. The three final looks said it best: models sheathed in layers of knotted nude tulle made for a breathtaking moment, carefully juxtaposing the virginal with the sadomasochistic.
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