To the litany of great Irish artist/muse relationships—W. B. Yeats and Maud Gonne, James Joyce and Nora, Oscar Wilde and Bosie, Francis Bacon and George Dyer—we should probably add John Rocha
and his wife, Odette. She clearly inspired his show today. Unrepentant romantic that he is, he's obviously a sucker for Odette's other-timely style, which infused his collection with a dark dreaminess. Its edgiest expression was a black cage dress in an oily plasticized lace; its sweetest, a print that sprayed roses across a flaring skirt. There was a drifty something about the tiered, fluted, airy languor of the dresses that suggested Miss Havisham if she hadn't been such an old misery. Where her love was thwarted, Rocha's was clearly realized in items as poignant as a full-length white tank dress traced with tiny red blossoms, or a white skirt appliquéd with flowers that he'd snared in sheer georgette. Though he was in pursuit of lightness, there was a genuine substance in the way fabrics were worked and embellished. And it was perfectly complemented by picture hats painstakingly constructed, said Rocha, from organza piping. That idea—effortless beauty, arduous effort—rang true as an enduring metaphor for fashion itself.