In part, I see this blog as providing insight into my worlds, the worlds I research, negotiate, see, feel, hear, touch, and get lost in every single day (I get lost quite easily) where last night, I watched the short film ‘THE WAY WE DRESS – Simone Rocha: Hong Kong Dress’ by Linda Brownlee . It takes a look at the inspiring ‘pastel hues and button-up chic of her grandmother’s generation’…a collection inspired by her “Grannie”.
Simone Rocha was born and raised in Dublin and now works in London, UK. She travelled back to her father John Rocha’s birthplace for the film which she narrates reflecting on the innate style of a generation of older women ‘…there’s a sense of pride of how you look and present yourself, always very clear, there’s never a button falling off, their hair is always done…the elderly are so active, there’s an activity to the way they dress…there’s a real practicality, there’s very little pea-cocking…very few women in skirts or showing skin…you can see in the women an idea of a look, they have taste and its for themselves not other people…From looking at the women there’s something really poetic about the way they dress.’
When interviewed by Nowness she stated,
‘I’m always left with a memory or a feeling of Hong Kong, rather than a reality of what a place is like today…I have one very clear memory, but I think some of it is from a photograph. The whole city feels framed…My family is full of very, very strong and opinionated women…They didn’t have much money, but they would always make themselves up so well to make the family proud. When I think of Hong Kong I think of them – and the electric energy.’
The washed-out pastels and poised looks have left an imprint on Rocha’s own aesthetic specifically an early collection called ‘Respect Your Elders’ based on her grandmother’s “neatness,” or the flowers she picks up at Yuen Po Street Bird Market and later re-appropriates for her modern romantic dresses. The designs have been coined as taking “granny chic” to new heights, often clean and minimalistic-like pieces featuring experimental and pioneering fabric techniques such as intricately embroidered silks, hand-knitted and hand-crocheted details in the prettiest hues of pale pink, off white and black.
While Rocha enjoys the ritual of going back to Hong Kong every year, her most trip to make this film was especially poignant – “With my granny recently passing, I felt more like an observer than a local. It feels like an ending of a generation.” With this I pay homage to my Grandfather who was a photographer and inspired my creativity, art practice, words-writing-language, letter writing, addiction to nomadic travel and seeing the world, and my distinct way of seeing until he was with us no more. To Poppa – I miss you every day.