Rodarte F/W 09.10 New York
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Join Date: Apr 2005
By CATHY HOYRN
Published: February 19, 2009
Destruction is an interesting motif for fashion. The scratched and crumbling textures of Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s dresses for Rodarte evoke toppled walls, broken concrete or shattered glass. The sisters from Pasadena, Calif., seem to have a thing for horror.
They are good not so much in conceiving a look for a fashion collection as in responding to their impulses. You sense that the Mulleavys literally feel their way through a collection, touching the fabrics, carefully dyeing them and making tender collages from the bits that attract them. There are some remarkable assemblages in their new line, shown Tuesday: marbleized leather, flashes of silver and green, smoky wisps of black yarn, most mounted on nearly invisible chiffon so as to appear dissolving.
These pieces, which take the shape of tunics and miniskirts worn with shaggy wool cardigans, have the quality of artifacts. As a counterweight, the sisters offered tough black leather, including motorcycle jackets with many straps around the body and arms, as though girded for battle. And the models wore over-the-knee boots that were lashed to the top with leather ties. Not an easy fashion to exit.
It’s baffling to hear people say that the Rodarte clothes are full of emotion when in fact they are emotionless. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Over the last 30 years a number of designers have tried to evoke a cold, mechanistic world — few more eloquently than Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Martin Margiela. More recently Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga has used materials to suggest robots.
So, are the Mulleavys adding anything to the fashion of destruction that couldn’t be said more simply and profoundly with a widow’s black dress (to recall Ms. Kawakubo’s famous show in the ’90s)? The answer is no. If the sisters are seriously engaged by this sensibility — and it isn’t clear that they are — they need to get under the surface. All those scarred fabrics are essentially ornament; the underlying shapes don’t change much, and they’re not interesting. Indeed you wonder if they are bored or intimidated by the actual mechanics of design — cutting, setting a sleeve — and that what their clothes express isn’t technical virtuosity but inarticulateness.
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