Simple Magic Is Still Magic. Rodarte SS21

After last season’s Dracula-bitten, romantic extravaganza, Rodarte’s spring-summer 2021 collection – presented in a look-book – is understandably much less dramatic. It’s actually about coming back to the brand’s roots, according to Kate and Laura Mulleavy. The dual crises of a global health pandemic and raging wildfires in California – the sisters’ homeland – forced the designers back into that state: at home, together, with only their creativity to occupy them. While their collection was borne from the same cloistered Californian sisterhood of their earliest outings, the final products are visually different. It’s signature Rodarte, but in more practical-magic version. It’s not so much that the tulle explosions or the cake topper confections have dulled; in the face of such tough times, the sisters are emphasizing the importance of making fashion for this struggling world. “Everything we do is about fantasy and dreams, but we are located in a moment, and we are a part of what is happening now,” Kate told Vogue. A fanciful gown, both designers agree, has little place in today’s world, so instead they channeled their efforts into clothing they would want to wear now “without distilling the ideas.” Expect florals, veils, and just slightly off sweetness. Pajama sets, slips, and robes appear in dainty and orderly floral prints inspired by their local gardens. The floral story continues in the ’40s dresses they played with last season, now relaxed in shape with prints that radiate from the navel or appear in handkerchief-like grids. Silk sweatshirts (I’m on fence with logo ones, though), trackpants, and midi-skirts continue the motif, trimmed in lace or ruffles. All this is topped off with silk floral wreaths that frame models’ faces, giving them the impression of fairies, nymphs, or other magical woodland creatures. With this collection, the Mulleavys have proven their ability to make inherently useful garments that don’t compromise on the Rodarte identity.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Dracula. Rodarte AW20

Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel „Dracula” inspired Francis Ford Coppola’s cult 1992 adaptation of the book, starring Winona Ryderand Keanu Reeves and featuring costumes by the legendary Eiko Ishioka. Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s autumn-winter 2020 Rodarte collection riffed on Coppola’s movie (and Ishioka’s costumes), but the result wasn’t a literal, gothic line-up. The location of the show – the dimly lit St. Bartholomew’s church in New York’s Midtown – provided a mysterious stage as the Mulleavys sent their army of ethereally chic undead out. The first part of the collection was about the pretty prey of Dracula: think cheerful polka dot day dresses, all over-sequined looks, draped blouses and pouf sleeves which all elaborated on 1940s-inspired silhouettes. Suddenly, the collection doubled down on the sweetness. Things got seriously dark – a sparkly midnight blue hooded cape, black fringes that looked like the tendrils of witches’ hair, cobweb embellishments, blood red. It was about witnessing the transformation of prey into predator, which was exactly the point. The show’s closer: a dreamy gown with big shoulders, blue flowers and a floor-sweeping, liquid-like veil. The vampire’s bride? Or the queen of the immortals? Designers seem to avoid scenarios for their collections – the fear of falling into the cliché trap – but at Rodarte, story-telling always works well.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lady-Like & Cartoonish. Rodarte SS20

So here we go again – the official (I emphasize ‘official’, as we’ve already seen Jacquemus in Provance and Vetements in McDonald’s two months ago as the aperitif of the season) fashion month triathlon is upon us! Lets start with Rodarte, which is a brand that navigates between Los Angeles and New York. Kate and Laura Mulleavy took a tactic they tried out for the first time a few seasons ago. No fashion show, but a look-book feauturing women they love and are friends with. This season’s bold, 80s-heavy sequins, ruffles and polka-dots are worn by the always amazing Kristen Dunst (I hope you’re watching On Becoming a God in Central Florida that’s airing now), Yalitza Aparicio, the sisters from Haim band, Margaret Qualley, Rowan Blanchard, Kiernan Shipka and basically all the girls Rodarte dresses for different occasions. All these women have a certain spark that feels so close to Rodarte and its dreamy womanhood concept behind. But put the look-book’s cast apart, there’s nothing ground-breaking about the collection – it’s a signature Rodarte line-up filled with couture-ish gowns. This time, though, the aesthetic feels more like Fragonard’s The Swing remixed with Slim Aarons’ photographs of rich, suburbian families having their garden parties. Lady-like combined with cartoonish. No other brand would pull this off without looking ridiculous.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Femininities. Rodarte AW18

Slide1

When actors, musicians and celebrities appear in fashion, the result often results in lots of buzz and fuss. But for Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the autumn-winter 2018 Rodarte look-book is about “portraits of friends”. By “friends”, they mean their long-time muse and collaborator, Kirsten Dunst (she plays the main role in the sister’s debutant film, Woodshock –  worth watching) who poses in a red, floral gown, pregnant. She looks so blossoming. But it’s not only Dunst! There’s Grimes, whose ethereal, out-of-this-world music matches Rodarte vibes and that couture-ish Edwardiana frock; Chloe and Halle, the R&B duo, who twirl cherry-blossom umbrellas; Kim Gordon in a sharp leopard print-ensemble; Rowan Blanchard, actress/activist in a cute varsity jacket; Gia Coppola wearing a chic, faux-fur look; Miranda July, wearing a silk chiffon dotted dress; and others. Mulleavy sisters pursuit the idea of womanhood in their work for years, and this season they embrace that with double power. Choosing those women (who inspire them and represent different femininities) to model their clothes is the best possible choice the designers could make. I’m really, really in love.

Slide1-kopia 3Slide2-kopiaSlide3Slide4Slide5Slide6Slide7

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.