nyfw: kate and laura mulleavy of rodarte talk tide life and the power of light
Everything's better down where it's wetter so go under the sea with Rodarte's spring/summer 15 show.
From the opening turn of Jamie Bochert as a tough, sexy girl on the pier to the closing succession of shimmering mermaid gowns, Rodarte's spring/summer 15 woman took a trip through the aesthetic wonderland of marine life, familiar territory for these devotedly Californian designers. Sea anemones found their way into ruffles on off-the-shoulder tops, fishermen's nets became asymmetrically sexy skirts, and an encyclopedia of sparkles mimicked the light of the sea.
"It started with tide pools. The idea of things that live in the ocean and grow around low shallow waters, and combining that with what is at the pier and mermaids. It ended up being slightly nautical which we hadn't expected," Laura Mulleavy said after the show. "I feel like the whole world was ocean life," Kate added.
This being Rodarte, there was an intensely handworked aspect to the garments. Incredible (and wearable) outdoorsman jackets contained netted sachets of paillettes. The netting skirts were frayed and embellished. And the much-Instagrammed evening dresses were even more intricate than they appeared. "Toward the end, those dresses are all hand beaded," said Kate. "If you were close to the pieces you'd see sand in the dresses. One of the gowns is aged with sand."
Although hand-beaded, sand-aged sparkling gowns are the stuff of fashion dreams, they are not particularly conducive to everyday life. So it was a pleasure to see the Mulleavys work up the very real, very right look of the "pier girl": high-waisted jeans, extreme laced leather boots and blouses open at the chest. And then there were those multiple eyebrow rings - a tough-girl look that had the beauty bloggers going ga-ga.
The show experience was a treat for the senses, with Alex de Betak's set featuring piles of broken glass, playing on the textures of the collection. "We're so used to doing the fittings with a flat light," Laura explained, "Then when you get into the show space where there's light from every angle, you suddenly can see how everything looks together - it's so exciting."
Ultimately, the Rodarte vision is one that works on many levels. Regardless of whether you're the customer, they might inspire you, or start a conversation. As Kate reflected, "That's what I like about the clothes that we make - I really do believe it's anyone. Whether you're wearing them in real life, or they inspire you when you make something that looks like them, or you look at pictures of them, I feel like it's so many types of people." It's a fitting and inclusive view of fashion in the internet age, where consuming imagery is just as much part of the conversation as shopping in a store.
Text Rory Satran
Photography Harry Carr