Fact: As exciting as cold-weather clothing is (especially coming off a sweltering summer), the best part of fall and winter is the decadence. Around mid-August, you’ll long to swap linen pants for silky trousers, cotton for sumptuous velvets, and shore-friendly accessories for crystals and pearls. It’s human nature to look forward to the next season, but Simone Rocha’s Fall/Winter 2022 show makes a case for skipping summer altogether. While the garments at the presentation all nodded to autumn’s crisp weather with high-fashion puffers and fairytale-fancy lace layers, the beauty showcased the more festive side of the season. Face jewels frame models’ eyes like impossibly-glittery spectacles, while feathered hair clips and sequined headbands held back models’ hair. The overall effect was imaginative, indulgent, colorful, and absolutely everything you want in a dramatic evening look — on the runway or off.
The show’s theme explains the pops of opulence and tattered glamour of the beauty looks. Much of the presentation was inspired by an Irish fable called Children of Lir, which features a band of children transfigured into swans by (what else?) an evil stepmother. The presentation hair, under the director of Cyndia Harvey at Art Partner, used Sebastian Professional products to build intricate hairstyles, some of which looked intentionally damp and mussed, as if the swan-models had trudged out of a lake and straight onto the London Fashion Week runway. Criss-crossing braid halos circled some heads, while others wore center parts framed by crystal hair clips, white feather hair clips, satin bows, and even jewel-studded balaclavas cut out to show a perfect face oval.
Meanwhile, the equally-striking makeup is the work of Thomas de Kluyver at Art Partner, who used piles of crystals, gems, and pearls to shape shimmering constellations around models' eyes and even across their upper backs.
For other, slightly more minimalist looks, De Kluyver snaked red and gold rhinestones across other models’ faces in swooping loops mirroring similar lines (bloodlines, it seems to reference) on some garments. Notably, there’s no other detectable makeup on the models — no mascara, no lip color. Not only does it emphasize the childlike element of the aesthetic and theme, but it puts more attention on those light-grabbing jewels.
The twisted fairytale aesthetic is reminiscent of a currently popular trend particularly loved by Gen Z. Called “dark academia”, it’s a fall-favorite style that fetishizes hushed university libraries, tartan skirts (usually with a coquettish, Miu Miu-esque spin, naturally), tweed blazers, and late-night study sessions illuminated by old-school candelabras. The fairytale version favors more romantically tragic motifs like torn lace, long braids, and tear-highlighted cheeks, but they share that dark, clandestine, English feel that can’t help but capture the imagination.
Of course, a collection this dreamy would draw some equally-ethereal guests. FKA Twigs — who looked like she could have joined the model lineup without batting an eye — sat front row, taking it all in along with British Vogue Editor Edward Enninful, Anna Wintour, Faye Wei Wei, and Devon Ross.
Considering Twigs’ penchant for the otherworldly, is it too much to hope for an entire visual album built around Children of Lir featuring nothing but Simone Rocha looks? Just an idea.