The first time I was ever introduced to Rodarte came from an image of Rowan Blanchard, an actress I had idolized, as she wore one of their gowns to the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscars party. The gown was a dream; it was ethereal, otherworldly, and transcended trend as a whole, it stood entirely alone. This dress opened a realm to why I believe the fashion industry exists; to replicate art into the most mundane elements of living.
This look beyond the simple constraints of what fashion as a practice is, is shared by the brand owners and designers of Rodarte, a sister-team; Laura and Kate Mulleavy. In a 2013 Vogue interview, the Mulleavy sisters attributed early childhood inspirations and fascinations as their main motivators behind creating the brand that is now Rodarte.
“It is not as simple as making a dress, it is making the dress and finding a meaning in that,” Kate Mulleavy expressed when talking to Vogue about the process of creation that her and her sister try to replicate when creating a dress.
The two sisters discussed the interconnection that their brand brings to the table with everyday elements of their normal lives. VIewing the garments with their structured silhouettes and ornate details, this tie to everyday life may appear convoluted, but the sisters make it work. Creating avante-garde, trend-breaking lines that are featured on numerous international and national runway shows.
After viewing the video uploaded to their brand’s page of their Fall/Winter New York Fashion Week 2020 line, it was clear to see where the sisters’ excelled. They took the ordinary and allowed it to dictate intricate forms of imagination that led the sister duo to create the avant garde looks that dominated the runway. Each assemble had a clear, concrete style, each resembling that of the common characteristics of a Rodarte signature look.
Almost all of the models’ looks were completed with a head piece, patterns and prints were paired playfully together, and a mixture of flamboyance and elegance created the perfect stylistic balance.
Paired with the show production of Bureau Betak, who played whimsically with the portrayal of both light and dark, hosting the show in what appeared to look like church and sticking with classical music as the soundtrack, Rodarte showcased their juxtapositional nature as a brand.
Each look fleshed into the other, as a series of accentuated shoulders led to light barely-there nude gowns. This show in particular, showcased the versatility of the brand as a whole, as each piece that followed the other could fit within a mini-series that was often shown through the sequence, or as a part of the entire collection.
This alongside the color palettes that contrasted, yet came together and the stylistic features that differed drastically from garment to garment, displayed the flexibility of imagination that the Mulleavy sisters’ utilize when coming to the drawing board in collaboration.
However, undoubtedly the most significant feature of each look that dictated this ability to reach a plethora of design capabilities, resided within the narratives that each outfit told. As Kate Mulleavy told Vogue, “It involves a more femoral element of communication, it is about communicating with people.”
Communicating Rodarte did, as each of their creations passed onlookers throughout the show, the fascination increased. Phones, cameras, and other forms of technology raised in awe as each look somehow transcended the excellence of the last, while altogether existing as an ensemble of it’s own.
Very rarely within the industry today are there brands that stay true to the look and appeal they have coined as their very own. Rodarte is one of these rare brands that has achieved just that.