For all their oh-gosh naïf mystique, Kate and Laura Mulleavy have some potent subversion, maybe even a little kink, coursing through their veins. For spring, the fantastical quality that defines their work, whether dark or romantic — in this case, both — featured an aggressive streak. “It’s not subdued at all,” said Laura a few days before the show. “It’s about medieval things and role-playing games.”
What’s your pleasure? Knight? Princess? Hell’s Angel? A statement in power-dressing for Rodarte’s quirky fan club, the show referenced armored warriors, road warriors and, it must be noted, Nicolas Ghesquière. It was an imaginative mix of strange beauty. Short, strapless dresses shown layered over tight, printed turtlenecks had bodices shaped like partial octagons that jutted away from the body like a breastplate. Other variations on the armor motif included waistlines embellished with draped chains and corsetlike metal embroidery on long, fluid gowns for those whose fantasy is less iron, more maiden. Also on the role-play menu: bohemian biker bitch in fabulously robust black leather, including lace-up pants and quilted jackets with ample fringe and colorful silk trim.
The dominant silhouettes — short, structured dresses; boxy tops worn with skinny pants — and colors — teal, black, orange — are commonly associated with the term “futuristic,” especially when set on crazy Transformer shoes. Yet the mix of materials and construction, such as thick guipure lace worked like chain mail, woven jacquards and brocades, suggested a lot of handwork and gave the look an artisanal touch that’s key to the Rodarte identity and appeal.