Kate and Laura Mulleavy adhered to the standard they’ve established for Rodarte in recent seasons for fall. The collection was predictably uneven, scattered with moments of genuine beauty and mishaps, too. This time the balance fell in favor of the good stuff.


The Mulleavys wanted to tell a San Francisco story. They attended the University of California, Berkeley, and recently revisited their old stomping grounds, including Caffe Trieste. “They have these pictures on the wall of Francis Ford Coppola. I think he worked a lot on ‘The Godfather’ there,” said Laura backstage. The Corleones celebrated a couple of weddings (and funerals), the brides covered in white lace, which the duo used amply in the collection. One white, knee-length lace dress with tiered, pouf sleeves and an asymmetrical tiered hem was worn with a veil. But the lineup wasn’t a Coppola tribute; it was an ode to Art Nouveau romance inspired by music posters and the genre’s crafty, gypsy-nymph decoration and witchy fantasy.


Slim, tea-length dresses sectioned into collagelike panels of hand-beaded and hand-painted guipure lace with floral and bird accents were dreamy examples of the designers’ imaginative eveningwear with a homespun touch. Perhaps taking a cue from Scott McKenzie, these San Francisco nouveau fairies were sure to wear flowers in their hair. Other pretty dresses featured a single sleeve with bodices and skirts traced in pink, black and burgundy or pink ruffles.


The daydream was interrupted, however, by clunky ruffled leather pieces (jackets, belts, gloves); garishly colored long-haired goat jackets, and weird boots that stretched up the calf in cutouts and brown ruffles. Many of the fabrics fell short of the quality needed to pull off the look. In the end, this San Francisco story was a tale of two cities.

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