A starry, starry night. And also a starry afternoon at Rodarte, with Taylor Swift, Saoirse Ronan, Rooney Mara and two sets of ultrasisters — Knowles and Fanning — turning out to witness the star power of a third, Kate and Laura Mulleavy.
Even if the famous ladies in the audience didn’t get the megawatt collection’s essential eccentricity (It’s not for everyone), they could surely relate to the ongoing challenge of merging artistic and commercial endeavors. The Mulleavys are at that point in their careers. This collection bore evidence of a desire to be more commercial while protecting the artistry at the core of their work. If the designers felt the strain of compromise, it resulted in a beautiful thing.
Inspired by Van Gogh — his sunflowers, swirls of stars, brushstrokes and vibrant colors — the clothes were a mesmerizing concoction of color, construction and fantastical gowns. The Mulleavys are dreamers, and one could imagine them waking up with visions of off-the-shoulder dresses draped from golden floral-print silk. A number of styles fit this description, whether a short, structured cocktail frock with a dropped waist and folded circle skirt, or an ethereal gown of iridescent seafoam tulle lavished with silk sunflower embroidery. Similar silhouettes came in more painterly prints from the artist’s starry night.
What couldn’t be seen was the internal construction: No matter how voluminous or seemingly simple, every look was boned for precise fit and structure. More overt signs of the designers’ fixation on craft appeared on a metallic linen painter smock with stiff, ruffled sleeves, and a pintucked, purple leather shell that indulged their artistic side. Yet there was also plenty of downright approachable fare — tapered, cropped, pants; tiered georgette skirts and fantastic color-blocked hand-knit cable sweaters. These should have retailers seeing stars.