Rodarte RTW Fall 2011

Drawing on the Great American Plains for inspiration, it was one of Kate and Laura Mulleavy's more serene and straightforward collections.

After exploring their home turf of Northern California last season, Kate and Laura Mulleavy headed east for fall — well, slightly east, anyway. “We were inspired by the Great American Plains,” Laura said postshow. “And all the different things you associate with that area, like ‘Days of Heaven’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz.’” It made for one of their more serene and straightforward collections, signaling an increasing ease within the commercial arena. The result was beautiful, if shy on the label’s edge and flights of fancy.


From the start, the Mulleavys hinted at a quieter, more gentle affair. The show opened with a light show set to the folksy tunes of Bruce Langhorne (aka Mr. Tambourine Man) from Peter Fonda’s 1971 Western “The Hired Hand.” “It’s the opening scene, the sunrise,” explained Laura. “It puts you in the position of waking up.”


And while the first look out was no sleeper, it was still subdued: a simple bouclé wool coat — long and lean, cinched at the waist and flared — worn over a dotted creamy chiffon dress. The message seemed to be one they have touched on before: There’s no place like home(spun).


Which was how much of the collection continued, from the palette (mostly honey, tawny and oat) to the fabrics in rough-hewn wools, floral and guipure laces and mohair knits. The season’s geometrics came in Amish quilt motifs, seen in the sweaters and pinaforelike tops (patchworked from leathers and pony hair) as well as the tough, tribal-looking footwear with Native American beadwork. Dresses, with their slight bishop sleeves and prairie vibe, looked Laura Ingalls chic, while the floor-sweeping coats (the collection’s highlight) featured the occasional cutout and crisscross straps for visual intrigue.


And let’s not forget the draped silk goddess gowns — perhaps inspired by Demeter, the harvest goddess — which highlighted the season’s theme most literally. They all featured a sky and wheat field scene in various hues, depending on the time of the day. “It’s the idea of how light travels through the day,” said Laura. “And Kate and I all of a sudden were obsessed with wheat.”

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