Fashion lives of creativity, it is born from moments of inspiration and it materializes in pieces that challenge the wit and the imagination. When it manifests through the union of two big names of the industry, that intend to make the dream reach an (even) broader audience, it is reasonable to believe that we are before something historical.
It is said that unity is strength. But, it wouldn't be wrong to say that unity is also creativity. In the words of Albert Einstein, "creativity is contagious, pass it on". This contagion has long reached the headquarters of H&M. Since 2004, the Swedish brand has been expanding its creativity by collaborating with brands and top designers to create more accessible collections, but no less innovative. Names such as Karl Lagerfeld, Comme des Garçons, Lanvin and Erdem have already partnered with this fast-fashion giant. In 2021, this collaboration happens with the Irish designer Simone Rocha, who celebrates ten years of her career and takes on the role of a fan of previous collaborations: "I still have socks from the Marni X H&M and a knit from the collection with Comme des Garçons. I remember the excitement I felt to be able to have these pieces, be able to have a piece of fashion history." History is made from moments like this – unique, unrepeatable.
According to the definition of the Priberam dictionary, "creativity" means the ability to create, to invent and the quality of who has original ideas and who is creative. The creativity of Simone Rocha has allowed her to create an original brand, where the keyword for everything that she produces is "identity". There are several elements and details that define her pieces and make them identifiable by anyone, such as the floral prints, the pearls, the collars and endless ornaments that transforms any look into something refreshing and appetizing. Therefore, there is no wonder that creativity is also, one of the main threads of Rocha's choices. But, what is it to her, to be creative? "It is about having conviction in your own ideas, the quest for one's own voice and for something new and original". Meanwhile, for Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor of H&M and responsible for this collaboration, creativity is "about the urge to do things differently, or in one's own way." And adds that "That's one of the things that has always inspired me about the H&M collaboration concept – every designers' collection has been so unique, and so them." Creativity also promotes unity, so Simone Rocha says: "I also very much associate creativity with family, teamwork, collaboration. I think it's probably a combination of the two – a unique voice, matched with the ability to work with other people on shaping and amplifying that voice." On the other hand, there is also the difficulty to deal, nowadays, with social media and the excess of information and how these aspects may or may not influence creativity and the imagination of each of us. Regarding that, the British designer has no doubts: "I do think that while lockdown has been hard, having time at home, time away from travel and events has been good for my creativity. I think sometimes stepping back from too many commitments or conversations can be a really good thing for anyone's creativity. It's all about time think!"
And time was the luxury to which Simone Rocha had access to delve into this new challenge, that began in the summer of 2018. This Simone Rocha X H&M collection is a celebration of the designer's world and her influences, like Irland and China, femininity and feminism, but also family and the importance it has in her life. For that very reason, she decided to venture and expand the collection to menswear and children clothing, something she had never done before. However, regardless of her loyalty to the characteristics that make her unique, Rocha also tried to reflect on her past collections and revisit some shapes, colours and elements of her archive, in a way to reinterpret them and give them a second life. To Vogue Portugal, Rocha tells: "I tried to block out any noise, and just spend time really distilling that essence of who we are as a brand – so a lot of time was spent in the archive, looking back at past collections and past ideas, and thinking about new ways we could push them or twist them." The palette of colour such as white, beige, pink, red and black is still present in all the pieces of the collection, as well as floral pattern and tartan, not neglecting the pearls, her nickname being Pearl. Regarding this collaboration, Ann-Sofie Johansson doesn't forget to mention that "I think what really impressed us in working on the collection was how Simone has such a unique and special aesthetic, season on season; she has such a clear point of view. And that felt very exciting for this moment; a female designer with such a clear sense of who she is, and what she wants to say." The importance of the quality of the fabrics and making each piece unique was something that the designer had always present. Sustainability and the use of organic and recycled materials have long been part of her brand and, with this collaboration, that goal was not lost. The designer hopes that every piece is special and that it can be used forever by the person who buys it. Just like this double creativity originated this collection, each piece was thought of as being part of a whole. According to Rocha, "each piece in the collection – for him and for her, for grownups and little ones – is designed to communicate between themselves; one unite, one identity. And, through H&M, you'll be able to have access to a new and tímeles piece to combine with your existing pieces of the past collections. I really hope there is something for everybody." Creativity proves to be a synonym of time, union, originality and identity, and it makes room for more and new, connections.
Translated from the original article of Vogue Portugal's Creativity issue, published in March 2021.