Whenever Haute Couture Week approaches, Jean Paul Gaultier is one of the most anticipated names on the calendar. Since 2020, Gaultier has implemented a new system where he handpicks a young designer to take on his homonymous house’s codes and reinterpret them in a couture collection. Some creatives who have previously taken on the role include Olivier Rousteing, Glenn Martens, Julien Dosenna, Chitose Abe and Haider Ackerman

Now, Simone Rocha joins the list with a Spring Summer Haute Couture collection presented on January 24.


Handpicked by Gaultier

In September 2023, Gaultier announced that Rocha would guest-design his brand’s first haute couture collection of 2024. Since then, Rocha’s cult following has been eagerly waiting and even theorizing about the direction this collaboration would take.

The collection marks Rochas’ first-ever couture effort. However, one of the reasons Gaultier chose the Irish-Chinese designer was her ability to add a contemporary touch to her distinctly classic style. “She modernizes, let’s say, with twists, bringing together different cultures — biker and romantic. It’s this kind of thing that I love, what we have in common, but each of us do it in our own way.” Gaultier told Highsnobiety.

A Romantic, Theatric, Affair

The result of Rocha’s takeover was astounding — a melting pot of unapologetic femininity that combined her regal sensibilities with Gaultier’s maximalist and playful DNA. During the developmental phase of the collection, Rocha took time to revisit Jean Paul Gaultier’s archives and visit the Royal Archives of Queen Victoria. There, she looked into 19th-century garments that became a source of inspiration for her work for Gaultier. Perhaps this influence is what informs the sense of royalty and classic elements prominent in the collection.

Although Rocha has always excelled in this type of whimsical aesthetic, she still managed to touch on Gaultier’s house codes. The designer specifically looked at the ballet “Le Défile,” choreographed by Régine Chopinot and customed by Jean Paul Gaultier in 1985 to open the second season of the Théâtre contemporain de la danse de Paris. Considering this theatrical inspiration, it is no wonder that a ballet influence was present throughout the show. 

Rocha also took the edge and sensuality up a notch with sharp shapes, body-hugging silhouettes, and rebellious touches of belts and leather. Through whacky twists, extravagant forms, and hypnotizing details, the runway embodied the spirit of one of the most iconic and irreverent French couture houses.

Ode to the Classics

When it comes to Gaultier’s guest-designed collections, one of the most exciting parts is spotting references to his work on the runway. An obvious homage to the French designer’s legacy was the iconic cone bra. In her interpretation, however, Rocha traded bold and eye-catching colors for solemn blacks, milky whites, and blushing pink. The designer also combined the cone bra with elements from Gaultier’s Spring Summer 2001 Couture in a jolting bust look that also incorporated ribbons trailing down the body.


Additionally, Rocha referenced the collection’s pompous coat, the use of corsetry, and the bedazzled details that covered the models. Corsetry became an integral part of Rocha’s couture work as she interpreted the structural garment in a dainty way, combining dramatic silhouettes with florals, lacings, and soft nude colors. Rocha also dipped her toes into Gaultier’s use of hardware through hints of silver detailing and belts. 

Another welcome nod to Jean Paul Gaultier’s history was the exploration of the marinière (nautical) theme. Rocha revisited Gaultier’s iconic sailor hats and stripes with ribbon detailing and intricate embellishments, breathing new life into the motif and proving her ability to reinvent design codes. 

Interested in more fashion content? Check out the highlights of Haute Couture Week here.