#CNI Lux Day 2: Simone Rocha On Building Her Brand

Alice Newbold, Vogue Daily Editor, reporting live from the CNI Luxury Conference in Lisbon

Simone Rocha grew up skipping school to attend the shows of her father, John Rocha, who taught her to sew by setting her tasks like crocheting socks for his spring/summer 1994 collection. Fast forward to 2010 and Simone Rocha the brand was born. Her feminine-tomboy aesthetic and voluminous silhouettes that play with proportion are all rooted in the creative energy she grew up around (her mother handled the business side of John Rocha) and have won her a handful of industry accolades along the way, including 2014 New Establishment Award and 2016 Womenswear Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards.

At the Condé Nast International Luxury conference, the Irish-born jewel of London Fashion Week tells Suzy Menkes about combining the personal with the poetic to create stories and clothes that resonate with women.

Suzy Menkes asked how Rocha’s exceptional heritage, which includes a Chinese grandfather and Portuguese roots via Macau, is reflected in her creative designs, how she has built her business and how she sees her brand: “Whether looking at my heritage and the landscape in Ireland to influence textiles and fabrication, or being in a space like and feeling alien with my senses enhanced, for me it has to be personal to feel sincere, new and authentic.”

Rocha’s work is poetic, and her clothes about storytelling, with each show dedicated to a personage she has created. This has only increased since she became a mother. “It’s very tiring,” she laughed. “ has influenced me in a literal way, but she has also made me refocus and use my time.” Trips to the hospital translated into dresses influenced by nurses’ uniforms and swaddling fabrics in her latest collections.

Indeed, her clothes are underlined by functionality. “ is about femininity, but it has strength,” she said. The fantasy is grounded in practicality, because, for her, “that is what makes things modern”.

She’s open-minded about production – hence her latest connection to Portugal, where she describes the artisans as being “very open and understanding to new challenges”– and has a relationship with every single store that sells her brand. “I think about stockists all the time, you have to be specific about the buy – big or small –because they have to understand the brand. That’s what gives it power and a solidarity.”

The fourth annual Condé Nast International Luxury Conference is in Lisbon, on the 18th and 19th April. For more information, visit the website