This wasn’t a regular Rodarte collection. Kate and Laura Mulleavy left behind romantic ruffles and horror vacui ornaments, and resorted towards something lighter, even ethereal. Over the past 18 months, the Rodarte sisters have made a promise to meet their woman where she is. Their spring-summer 2022 collection was a proper declaration of re-emergence, of spiritual glitz, and of reconnecting to nature. From the first white dress with trailing black triangles at the sleeve to the last mushroom printed bubble dress, this was a collection meant for movement. Gusts flared out their hems, made their beaded fringe dance, and blew up their circular bubble dresses to spectacular effect. The Rodarte woman, once a wallflower, was now in the height of her natural power. And then, with the speakers crackling under a vibrato of aaaaahhhhhs, came a sunset of draped dresses and barefoot models. Was it a sun salutation, an homage to cacti, or a cult offering? In the minds of the Mulleavy sisters it was gestural, turning their models into a painter’s palette to celebrate the raw beauty of the earth. It’s a personal message for them: their mother is an artist, and their father is a botanist specializing in fungi. That blossoming mushroom finale dress was hand drawn by their mother and, in a way, about their father. So much ink has been spilled about the dynamic between Kate and Laura, but their mighty artistry was clearly cultivated and nurtured by their parents. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and the Rodarte woman will feel comforted and extra glam in the family’s beautiful new collection.
No one in New York does opera-level drama like Thom Browne. At his spring 2022 presentation, which was an artistic performance and a fashion spectacle at the same time, the audience could be carried off in awe in so many directions: pegasuses rode penny-farthings, a couple of bachelors haunted a raw wood house, models turned from shrubs into statues… just wow. The presentation began with a voice-over about a couple of bachelors stuck indoors, looking out over an aging garden. Classic statuary, the tradition of carving a marble block into a contrapposto David, charted the show’s three parts: part one, twenty Platonic suiting ideals; part two, the pure marble slab as tunic and maxi, fastened with a hook-and-eye up the back; part three, a trick of the eye, a flex of artistry, full force in tulle. At the end, the show’s two bachelors chained their gates, unzipped each other’s gray wool dresses, and orbited each other, never quite touching hands. Passion thrives in the littlest gestures; Browne’s show was full of beauty to pluck your heartstrings and stoke your sartorial flame. And oh, the details! Those rainbow-color tulle dresses that made up the finale, with trompe l’oeil drapery and abs (the exact Greek statues Browne visited were in The Met), were not painted, but dozens of layers of tulle built up like a topography of the human form. Teddy Quinlivan’s long sheath had an arm sewn to the torso, and the models who walked in the show’s first passage were layered in at least four Browne tailoring separates. This show was not only awesome for its theatricality but for its scale; other designers would struggle to make a single garment to Browne’s standard. Browne made about 200. Each of those 200 shirts, pants, skirts, suits, jackets, bags, shoes, and hand-made gray flowers was, in not-so-coded language, a love letter to American fashion. Browne moved his show back to New York for one season only in support of his partner Andrew Bolton’s exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” opening at The Met this week.
What Eckhaus Latta sent out this season was one of their most concise and quintessential collections ever. “It’s about feeling more free,” said Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta. “Really feeling yourself, coming out of the past year-and-a-half and wanting to feel sexy and confident and free.” Garments were filmy, thin dust-colored layers of nylon layered together, ivory cotton dresses and bodysuits with oval cutouts and hundreds of snaps, and airy shirts in lime and faux leather jackets in cinnamon left open. Pieces were named after transient, erotic words: vapor turtleneck, undone jumpsuit, wisp dress. The torsos were out, the nipples were out, and in a statement of intent: models wore black thongs instead of the industry-standard beige. This collection felt like a Helmut Lang tribute, even if this wasn’t the intention. Back to the designers – both Latta and Eckhaus had a reckoning with their own bodies this past year; she became a first-time mother, he had a breakup and then the requisite hot boy summer. “We’re going through different things, but we both have a desire to just be fucking real,” said Latta.
This was an exuberant, joyful and extremely uplifting Batsheva collection. Batsheva Hay’s spring-summer 2022 runway show pushed her prairie, girly aesthetic to electric new heights, at some points even camp-y territories. We’ve got crinolines, yards and yards of silver lamé, diva-worthy gowns with early-’60s swing backs, and simple white eyelet sundresses with tie dye tights. The show, which started with a ballad and swung into grunge, was a spectrum of Batsheva’s evolving asethetics. As the world opens up, Hay explained post-show, she can’t stop thinking of home: starting her brand in her home, her family in her home, and the freedom we have in our private homebound moments. Dialing up the collection’s glitz and campiness was her way of honoring dressing up at home, that moment when you throw it all on, do too much, and feel fashionable and free of peering gazes. Busy Philipps, Ego Nwodim, Amy Fine Collins, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Veronica Webb, and more New York legends – and Batsheva clients – took turns in cascading frills and sweet dresses. This was one of these New York Fashion Week moments that we all missed during the pandemic seasons.