Why Simone Rocha x H&M is the big designer collaboration to get excited about in 2021   

This hyper-pretty collection is the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel

Sisters Adwoa Aboah and Kesewa Aboah wear Simone Rocha x H&M
Sisters Adwoa Aboah and Kesewa Aboah wear Simone Rocha x H&M Credit: Amy Gwatkin

Mark March 11 in your diaries now. Not only might we just be starting to see the glimmer at the end of the lockdown tunnel by that point, but it’s the day that we’ll be able to get our hands on H&M’s collaboration with Simone Rocha.

The Irish designer has become a star of London Fashion Week in the decade since she founded her label, shaping a look which is at once tough and pretty. Her decadently delicate dresses, treasure-chest jewellery and frilled blouses are the stuff of fashion insider fantasy but the H&M project will see Rocha, who had been on the Swedish retailer’s collaboration wish list for some time, make forays into menswear and childrenswear for the first time. 

The collection will span from the casual - relaxed t-shirts and knitwear - to the unashamedly dressed-up - including tulle dresses, tailoring and trench coats - catering to Rocha fans whether they’re wedded to their loungewear or ready for some style escapism. 

Simone Rocha wearing pieces from her collection for H&M Credit: Ben Toms

Rocha’s eclectic back catalogue of past references will all be apparent in her designs, with Tudor courtiers, the arts and crafts of Hong Kong and dolls all featuring as inspirations in the range. She’s the latest in a long line of fashion designers, including Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, to team up with H&M to offer their designs at more democratic price points.

It’s not just clothes which are included. The Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle, who have both worn earrings by Rocha in the past, might be pleased to know that she has included a selection of twinkling jewellery and hair accessories in her H&M offering as well as footwear.

The Duchess of Sussex wearing Simone Rocha earrings Credit: Reuters

Beyond her regal-meets-modern punk aesthetic, Rocha is known for championing women of all ages, sizes and races in her shows, a tradition which happily continues in the H&M collaboration. Normal People star Daisy Edgar-Jones, model Tess McMillan (famed for her ethereal beauty and non-sample size figure) and sisters Adwoa Aboah, an activist, and Kesewa Aboah, an artist, are among the line-up of names chosen by Rocha to showcase the collection. 

Tess McMillan wears Simone Rocha x H&M Credit: Amy Gwatkin

The images of the women released today offer a tantalising glimpse of what we can expect. Kesewa and Adoah are both in puff-sleeved dresses - the former’s in dark, moody florals and the latter’s in fresh, crisp broderie anglaise, accessorised with a smattering of hair bows and clips. Tess wears an elegant cream dress with crystal hair-clips and a pearl necklace while Daisy showcases a sequinned, pearl-encrusted shirt with yet more hair trinkets. 

Daisy Edgar Jones wears Simone Rocha x H&M Credit: Amy Gwatkin

“All of us at H&M have been so inspired to work with a female designer  who spends so much time thinking about contemporary femininity, and womanhood, and who is so committed to excellence in craft and design,” said Ann-Sofie Johansson, head of design at H&M. “from the process of developing special fabrications, to pushing silhouettes, shapes  and embellishments. Every garment within this collection is unique, special and the result of years of work and  meticulous research.” 

“I am so thrilled to be working with H&M on this very special collection,” Rocha said. “It truly is a celebration of the signatures of  my brand, and the influences that have shaped me. As a designer, and as a customer, I’ve been such a fan of the  H&M collaboration concept. Margiela, Alber Elbaz, Comme des Garcons – it’s such an amazing list of alumni to be  a part of.” 

No doubt her pieces will become just as collectable as those past hits.