Fashion’s favorite canteen in London – The New York Times

LONDON – A few days before her London Fashion Week show, Simone Rocha, a romantic and fabulous womenswear designer, was at Café Cecilia, a striking white restaurant next to a canal and Victorian gas mills in the Hackney district, east London. She is taking a break with her husband, cinematographer Eoin McLoughlin, and her parents, John and Odette Rocha.

“I’m here several times a week,” said 35-year-old Miss Rocha, who is wearing Kate Middleton clothes and has been name-checked by Lorde on her last album. “My studio is nearby, along the canal in De Beauvoir, and our daughter Valentine goes to school 15 minutes away, so I can pick her up and come here for a cake.”

Her loyalty is understandable, as Café Cecilia is a project of the Rocha family. Founded by Max Rocha, Ms. Rocha’s younger brother, the restaurant is decorated by Ms. Rocha’s father and decorated with artwork by family, friends and Francis Bacon.

The waiters were dressed by Miss Rocha, who first embarked on menswear through the staff uniform – minimalist short-sleeved shirt and dark navy trousers – while the manager, Kate Towers, dressed in gorgeous black lace- a manicured Simone Rocha look. Café Cecilia has become the family’s regular Sunday brunch canteen, and is also very popular in the London art and fashion world.

“When you come here, it’s like you’re walking into our family home,” says Max Rocha, 30: “Everything is very much like us, from the wooden floors, which my dad always had in the doors. to the uniforms made by Simone and my mother. There is also a picture on the wall of my 6 year old niece. ”

Dickon Bowden, vice president of trendy retailer Dover Street Market, is a regular. “It’s intimate and familiar, but it feels like you’ve gone somewhere really special that still has a bit of a secret,” he said. John Skelton, a menswear designer known for his folklore-inspired tailoring, likes to pop in for a morning bacon sandwich on his way to his studio. several doors. Ruth Hogben, a fashion filmmaker known for her hits with Dior, Lady Gaga, Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, chooses “whatever is healthiest” from the menu.

Tim Walker, a Vogue photographer, is also a regular. “It’s not often that you can combine simplicity with memorability,” he says.

Café Cecilia is the latest chapter in an exceptionally stylish family story set between Ireland and England. John Rocha was a long-timer at London Fashion Week from 1985 until closing his flagship store in 2015. Early in his career, he was the amazing Hong Kong-born guy from Dublin , took Sinead O’Connor as well as Christy Turlington on her catwalk and vacationed in St. Tropez with Bono.

He stopped showing up on the runways in 2014, but unlike many who rolled the dice on the London Fashion Week stage, Mr Rocha walked out of the game independently and successfully.

Until 2018, he was part of the Designers list at Debenhams, along with Jasper Conran and Julien Macdonald, designing home interiors. Mr. Rocha has also had a range of his own designs produced by Waterford crystal since 1997; was awarded the CBE in 2002; and in 2010 was one of six Irish fashion designers honored with a postage stamp in his adopted country.

Family has always been a part of his business – Simone Rocha went to her father’s first performance when she was just 3 months old, and decades later Max Rocha would create tracks their movies – and now, says Mr. Rocha, it’s time for him to support them. (While his children have lived in London for a while, John and Odette Rocha moved from Dublin in 2018)

Max Rocha, who left his career in music management to become a restaurateur, is an alumnus of St John’s, another white-walled modern restaurant beloved by London’s art and fashion communities. Mr. Rocha might serve a simple pie, filled with pig’s head and potatoes, or pork and apricots or mussels in cider. Almost everything was created in collaboration with his mother, Odette.

“I’ve always loved to cook,” says Odette Rocha. “We spend a lot of time talking about products and recipes.”

The common thread that runs through art, family and food is of Dublin origin. Max Rocha says: “Guinness sandwiches are the mainstay of the menu. “It’s served on its own, and is also heated and roasted with sugar to get into the ice cream.”

Mr. Rocha has been careful to fit in with his life as a restaurateur. He’s open about having had anxiety problems and depressive episodes in the past, and he doesn’t want to burn out; therefore, the restaurant is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday (the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Sunday). On a night off last month, he decided to stream “Boiling Point,” a recent movie detailing in real time about a fictional chef heading to his East London restaurant, but “I turned it off after 15 minutes and got a cartoon instead”. Rocha said.

The whole family should come to Café Cecilia to meet for Sunday lunch every week. Most recently, they celebrated their daughter Simone Rocha’s birthday in space, and Rocha threw her creative team’s Christmas party there. And there’s always at least one Rocha in the house, even if he’s hiding in the kitchen. However, the member of the Rocha family for whom Café Cecilia was named could not eat there.

Cecilia is the late mother of John Rocha. “Mom had a ‘charity fund’ with her mahjong group in Hong Kong,” he said.

“Every year, a worthy candidate receives money to help them achieve their goals. I’m the lucky 17 year old guy who got the money to buy a ticket to London. Max chose the name, as he feels without my mother, none of us would be here. “ Fashion’s favorite canteen in London – The New York Times

Fry Electronics Team

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