My 2013: September – Simone Rocha

The designer reflects on the year she stamped her name in perspex and peeping eroticism

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Simone Rocha
Simone Rocha Jacob Lillis

If there's one designer that's done it all this year, it's Simone Rocha. Sucking on a cough-drop, she recaps her year from the depths of a chest infection; globe-trotting, moving studio and two stand-out collections. In September, we were lucky enough to catch Rocha reunited and in conversation with Jerry Gorovoy, lifelong assistant to her biggest inspiration, the late-artist Louise Bourgeois. The month also saw the designer take over the Dazed Instagram just days before revealing her SS14 collection, which saw her rebel against the notion that her style was pure femininity. SS14 certainly took that aesthetic up a notch, or three. Inspired by the eroticism of photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, provocation was ripe; quenching the industry with a mix of PVC, near-transparent peeping slits and cut-away detailing. Skipping through Asia and Europe with a final stop off for the Dover Street Market New York opening – which will see her pieces even further flung across the world – the designer seems unlikely to stop for a breath before the year’s out, and we certainly can’t see her putting on the brakes anytime soon.

“It’s been chock-a-block. It feels like five years in one. So much has happened on so many different levels, like, with the collection, my team, moving studio and two collections. I got a boyfriend! That’s probably the highlight. It’s definitely been my most important year. It’s been a real step forward, and a lot happened, but it didn’t feel like we were working to a point – it happened and it’s done. The show in September was huge for me. It was almost like coming to a point of everything I wanted to say. The Araki exhibition was a huge influence on that show. My housemate [Jacob] Lillis introduced me to it and it was something that I really wanted to cut through my work because people were seeing it as super ladylike and I was like, ‘No. That’s not how I feel’. I found his work really inspiring; it was so provocative.

“The show in September was huge for me. It was almost like coming to a point of everything I wanted to say and the Araki exhibition was a huge influence on that.”

Moving studios was a nightmare! Doing the show with no phone or Internet was a joke, we were like, ‘Oh, my God!’ But having our own space has been really special. And having a really, really good team. Working with people like James [Pecis] is amazing and so important. We start a dialogue really early, I start talking to him and writing these forever-going-on-sentences about how I feel. And working with Jacob [Lillis]. I think he’s an amazing art photographer, you know, he’s so anti-fashion. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him. It’s been really amazing building relationships like that because, you know, it can be so isolating being creative, being a designer, being an artist. And to be able to work with people who are also isolated, but can come together to create something. That’s something really nice that I learnt this year.

“There is such a power in looking at something that you’re not familiar with, or being somewhere that you’re not familiar”

I also did a huge amount of travelling. So, that feels very much a part of this year, as well – that was something new for me. You’re moving around so much and seeing so many different things, you know? They inspire you, make you feel something. You don’t have as much time to sit around finding deep meanings about… skirts! You know what I mean? I went to Hong Kong twice, the first time I was visiting my granny; I was blown away. She’s elderly but she’s amazing. She actually inspired the February show – it was all about her! That was probably a surprise influence that ended up being a really big part of my year. Tokyo was nuts! I was there for three days re-building our garden installation – we call it ‘the blob’ – for the year anniversary of Dover Street Market Ginza. They’d asked lots of people to come and do special things, so it was super exciting, but totally mad. It was such a mix in a country that was so alien to me. But, I think there is such a power in looking at something that you’re not familiar with, or being somewhere that you’re not familiar, you know? It makes you feel something, and that’s so important when you’re being creative.”

For Dazed Digital’s 12 days of Christmas, the defining artists and personalities of 2013 talk us through their year. To celebrate we’re giving away a festive hamper full of gifts, including vinyl from Sohn, Zomby, a signed Giorgio Moroder cover and poster as well as Bun B’s rap colouring book. Tweet us at @dazedmagazine with your favourite cultural moment from 2013 using the hashtag #my2013 to be in with a chance of winning.

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