Simone Rocha stands out from the crowd of emerging fashion designers at London Fashion Week, and not just because she is the daughter of decorated British designer John Rocha. Critics and celebrities alike have fallen for the Irish-born designer’s youthful, sweet-but-edgy collections. Her signature Perspex-heeled brogues have already shot to cult status. Backstage before her fourth catwalk show, Rocha spoke to TIME.
What’s the inspiration behind this season?
This season’s very much inspired by my grandmothers – my Chinese granny and my Irish granny. My relationship with them and my respect for them made me think about my respect and relationship with clothing. I really wanted to develop this collection more, be a little bit more respectful, so it feels a little bit more grown up.
What are the challenges you’ve faced so far, as a younger designer who launched her own brand?
I think there’s a variety of challenges. But I think the key is—whether it’s creative or financial or any of those things—[to] stay strong to what you believe in and your identity. I think that’s really what’s important.
You are of mixed ancestry. How has that multi-cultural background influenced your work?
My granddad’s from Macau, so I’m actually half Irish, quarter Chinese, a quarter Portuguese, if we’re going to my grandparents. I think it’s made me extremely open-minded. I’m been very lucky. I grew up in Ireland, but I used to go to the Far East quite a lot as a child. It really made me super aware of different places and really open to different inspirations and different ways of life. So I think that’s a really good influence on my work.
When you design, do you have a picture of who the ‘Simone Rocha’ girl is?
It’s not one girl. This season is a picture of my grandmother, and she definitely wouldn’t wear it [laughs]. I don’t have one girl right now, I don’t think. What my label’s about is people being able to identify something of themselves in the collection, so they’re not trying to be someone else.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do after the show?