There’s something weird and haunting in Rodarte fashion. Since their debut in 2005, Kate and Laura Mulleavy have been brave and talented enough to push boundaries of their imagination, thus creating their own microcosm, filled with memories and an incredible range of cultural references. Horror movies, ballerinas, the Japanese imagery of a post-atomic world, nature, journeys through the American country, the porcelain doll aesthetic, old clothes forgotten in an attic: this and much more can be found in their creations.
I stopped writing about fashion per se a long time ago, but I couldn’t resist talking about their fall/winter 2013 collection, which was presented on February 12th, 2013, in New York. The picture above serves as a sort of visual introduction to it. I picked two beautiful pictures of symbolical American locations – Montauk and Mojave Desert – because I can feel their magical vibe in the collection.
Echoes from the past can be found, too: here I can see some elements from the 1960s (the tie-dye effect), from the 1980s (the high-cut bodysuit, leggings, asymmetries) and even something from the 1990s (mixing and matching apparently contrasting clothes). I picked my favourite pieces from the collection, so I’m curious to see if you agree with my selection.
A classic trench coat, made of suede, has been paired to a high-cut bodysuit and low-waist textured cropped pants (they have a rubber-like look), worn over black leggings. Tattoo rose socks and black trimmed flats complete the outfit. It’s all about styling here, because these pieces work so well together.
The same pieces are presented slightly modified. In the outfit above the trench coat is camel, while the bodysuit is black. This time it’s worn under a black satin blouse tied with a knot. The cropped textured trousers/black leggings combo is still there.
Jourdan Dunn walked the runway wearing an outfit which is a hymn to the 1990s, an apparently careless and confused set of clothing. The central piece is a low-cut dress with draped waist-line, pale beige chiffon skirt and patterned peplum. It’s worn over a pair of nude leggings and paired to a denim biker jacket with zips and studs. It’s hard to explain why I like it so much: probably it’s the uncoolness of the result which makes it extremely cool, if this means something.
All the models sported romantic braided hairstyles, finished with a rosette-shaped chignon, but Chloe Norgaard shone among the others for her sunset hair. I love the ombré effect on her acid yellow/orange/bright red hair, contrasting with the black roots. Such peculiar hair contrasted even more with her nude outfit, which included a slightly baggy blazer, bodysuit and cropped leggings and an asymmetrical skirt with white lining. The skirt and blazer are crystal-studded.
This nebula-like print can be found in many outfits. The one above is one of my favourites because it has such a relaxed vibe. The strongest element is the asymmetrical coat which has the shape of a cascading cardigan; it’s been worn with a jewelled and fringed sweater (similar to this one) and with a long skirt, plus white cropped leggings.
The same print in two different shades (blue and grey) characterizes the outfit above, where an asymmetrical blouse is paired to a sleeveless black bodysuit, wide cropped pants with side zips and black leggings. Asymmetry is the key-word to describe the blouse: the off-shoulder neckline, the sleeves with different cuts and the lower hem are “off-tune”; the result is quirky and interesting.
Most of the evening dresses are made of satin with a gorgeous tie-dye effect, clearly a reference to the hippie and DIY culture. In some cases it has been paired to inserts of rose-embroidered tulle and rose appliqués, but these dresses don’t convince me much. I prefer the tie-dye effect combined with folded triangle-shaped collars in white (see the dress on the left) or blush (see the one on the right). The combination of a graphic element and the joyful effect of the tie-dye is sublime.
I love the unfinished look of the white panel above: it has folded details but not the triangle shape of the collars we’ve just seen. It is as if the triangle has been “cut” so as to adjust to the model’s body.
A recurring accessory in most of the outfits is a silk handkerchief, tied around the neck like a scarf. I think it is a reference to Western style, the same that can be found in the unique jewellery. Earrings, brooches, belt buckles, headbands and necklaces are modelled like a barbed wire, which makes me think of cattle corrals. The barb wire also has an ominous echo, which has no part in the collection, so I tend to opt for the first reference, along with the idea of literally breaking boundaries.
And now some music which came to my mind the minute I saw this collection.
I Know There’s An Answer (1966) by the Beach Boys. Originally included in the album Pet Sounds, it was covered by Sonic Youth in 1990 and included in a reissue of Goo.
Road Trippin’ (1999) by Red Hot Chili Peppers, included in Californication. This beautiful acoustic piece tells about a road trip taken by Anthony Kiedis, Flea and John Frusciante to Big Sur.
White Rabbit (1967) by Jefferson Airplane, written by Grace Slick and included in their album Surrealistic Pillow. Packed with references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, it’s simply mesmerizing.
What do you think of the collection? Impressive or just a mess? Though not ground-breaking (it would be interesting to analyze the meaning of this adjective in contemporary fashion), I think it’s a self-confident and consistent step towards the journey of self-expression of the two American designers.