“I Want People to Feel Connected”—Simone Rocha Constructs a Beautiful, Universal World
Dec. 4, 2018
by: Steff Yotka
In Simone Rocha’s adopted home of Britain this Saturday, Londoners will come together to protest Brexit in Hyde Park. The grim reality of Brexit is nowhere to be found in Rocha’s latest project, the fall issue of A Magazine Curated By, which she masterminded with editor in chief Dan Thawley and editor at large Blake Abbie. Assembled on the red-tinged pages are Rocha’s family, friends, and collaborators. Hers is an inclusive, woman-led community. Think of it as the antidote to the world’s divisive politics.
“I’ve always really been into printed matter and we’ve been making our own collection books—we’ve made five of them—so when the opportunity to do A Magazine came about, I thought it would be an extension of all that,” Rocha told Vogue at a small fete for the magazine held in her New York store. Amidst her Fall 2018 collection were a food installation by Laila Gohar, coupes of Champagne, and dozens of Rocha-clad guests debating which magazine image was their favorite. (Personally, I am partial to the wise women that comprise the New York store staff photographed together by Thurstan Redding.)
Inside the magazine, Rocha explored ideas of identity, family, and community, using the project as an opportunity to celebrate her Irish and Chinese heritage. Long-standing collaborators like Jacob Lillis, Colin Dodgson, Louise Bourgeois, and Jamie Hawkesworth explore these themes alongside new collaborators, from Sarah Moon—“legend!” proclaims Rocha—to the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
The most poignant contribution—and there are many—comes somewhere in the middle of the mag: An interview with Ireland’s first female president, Mary Robinson, elected in 1990. Written by BBC foreign correspondent Stephanie Hegarty, the piece begins with Robinson learning of Ireland’s decision, this summer, to legalize abortion, a policy change Robinson has campaigned for since the introduction of the amendment in 1983. “I’m very proud of what Ireland has become,” Robinson tells Hegarty. The piece tracks Robinson’s life from a 25-year-old woman in Ireland’s Senate to the presidency to her stint as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Inspiring would be an understatement.
“That was a very real piece of journalism that was very gritty and feminist-facing,” said Thawley. “It’s interesting to see it in the context of this magazine that really is by women for women, as are all the contributions by the female artists.”
In the end, Rocha says she hopes the magazine combines the personal and the universal. “I want people to have a sense of their personal relationship, whether it’s with their family or how they feel connected to nature—I want people to feel connected. That’s why there are a lot of personal feelings throughout the magazine.” Sisters, unite!
Source: Vogue US