Simone Rocha just announced her next big job on Instagram in the most Simone Rocha way: with a fit of white florals and tangled blue ribbon, photographed alongside a note signed by Jean Paul Gaultier that read "Congratulations on your show! And see you for the next one...in Paris!"That's right: Simone Rocha will be the next guest couturier for Jean Paul Gaultier. Gaultier launched the program after retiring in January 2020, and his enfant terrible legacy has been ably carried on by Sacia’s Chitose Abe, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Glenn Martens of Y/Project and Diesel’s, Haider Ackermann, and Rabanne’s Julien Dossena. Rocha will be the sixth guest couturier—and possibly the one with the most exuberant online fans.
On Rocha's photo, some commentators wrote that they were crying. Others screamed through the screen, writing in all caps: "OH MY GOD." Across platforms, there seems to be a general consensus that this collaboration was the result of divine intervention, something that fashion fans manifested. I've seen people on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram tagging their friends about the news and saying something along the lines of: "Remember when we talked about this? We did this." Seeing how each of Jean Paul Gaultier's guest couturiers interpret the designer's half-century long career has become the delight of couture week, with hyper-online high fashion fans waiting with baited breath to mock up side-by-side comparisons of the new and the old. Rocha's show will follow the one by Dossena, which drew from Gaultier's '90s designs—specifically the "Adam & Eve" couples looks from 1991, which married the train of a woman's dress to the tail of a man's jacket. Dossena also demonstrated his mettle with metal, playing up a texture that has defined his work at Rabanne but that Gaultier used sparingly throughout his career. His collection included metal column dresses with grids reminiscent of Gaultier's signature sailor stripes and a replica of the iconic pointy-bra dress from the first Gaultier collection in 1984 rendered in silver chainmail.
Rocha debuted her eponymous line in September 2010 at London Fashion Week, and her subversive, frothily feminine pieces, often adorned with bows, beaded florals, and tulle, have become a highlight season after season. Over the past couple of years, she has amassed a following of fangirls who are obsessed with her dreamy, hyper-youthful, fairytale femininity, a style that has been dubbed "coquette-core" on TikTok. When she collaborated with H&M in 2021, the website crashed (I would know, I was there). Last year, she told Bazaar that she has been increasingly looking to “Lughnasadh, which is the autumn tradition in Ireland, and the rituals around it.” The idea is “this kind of teenage folklore, but set today, in this idea of realism.”
As with Gaultier, Rocha's designs have been described as fantasies you can wear. But instead of looking to the opulent world of the one percent, Rocha and Gaultier have always looked more to the real young punks of the street. They've also both created worlds in which gender is muddled and femininity is power, where references to bondage are somehow both hot and sweet.
The idea of the two collaborating feels obvious, in a way, and some online commenters have been wondering why it hadn't happened sooner. Still, the announcement this morning felt like the best kind of Fashion Month bombshell. Perhaps one commenter on Rocha's Instagram said it best: “I haven’t been this happy in forever. Looking forward to the show!”
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