On Jean Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture Show, Simone Rocha Bows Down
As the latest guest headliner for the couturier, Simone Rocha takes on a legacy of bold design and makes it her own.
One of fashion’s running jokes last year was that anything could be new if you threw a bow on it. From jeans to earrings to even sneakers, the world was awash with neatly tied ribbons, and the designer driving the humble bow’s dominion was Simone Rocha. But what Rocha has achieved in her career is no joke.
Since debuting her label back in 2010, the Central Saint Martins graduate has steadily become fashion’s favourite darling for her unwavering taste and fresh eye. In what some have dubbed the ‘female gaze’, her playfully provocative approach to design has garnered a cult following, particularly as she reacquaints us with the traditionally ‘girly’ aesthetics of childhood in a style that feels both optimistically grungy and coquettish with a bite.
So when it was announced that she was to join a prestigious lineup of designers who have guest-designed for Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture collections, fans were enthralled to see how she would merge the two worlds. Not because she doesn’t have what it takes—she’s proven her talent in spades—but because it’s always difficult to envision the offspring of two houses. For example, one of the major disparities between the designers is in their approach to shapes. Rocha famously leans towards volume and gravity-defying layers, while Gaultier has always highlighted the body in a more sensual way, leaning into corsetry and skin-hugging silhouettes. But both certainly share an appreciation for vintage opulence and strength in unabashed femininity—themes that were dominant in the Jean Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture collection Rocha debuted.
Dreaming up clever ways to coalesce ideas, Rocha’s creativity and consistency were on full display. Take the striped bodysuit that was actually made up of loosely stitched-on ribbons—an ode to Gaultier’s nautical-inspired hits. Or the iconic cone busts now upturned into horns, dixie cup hats adorned with bows and embroidery, and the nods to corsetry with undone fastenings.
Across 36 looks, Rocha’s penchant for volume, blush tones and ruching had a major presence but were seamlessly integrated with Gaultier’s signatures of corsetry and crinoline. Exaggerated hips were balanced with puffed-up sleeves and the designer’s go-to crystals and pearls embellished bustiers and gowns.
Neither designer is a stranger to tulle, and whether it was trimmed for ruffled bloomers or flourishing on the skirts of dresses, it had a great impact, as shown on a closing sweep of gowns. One with a buckled bodice and tulle skirt, one in Rocha red, a pistachio-hued strapless balloon gown and an off-shoulder taffeta dress with rosettes along its neckline were particular favourites.
As a younger designer taking on such a mammoth legacy, it would be easy to buckle, but Rocha’s touch was clear and controlled from the first look to the last and will no doubt be fawned over by the girlies. Gaultier’s essence was respected and played on, if not a little lost at times, but the collection was a triumph nonetheless, and certainly not just for the bows.