Kate and Laura Mulleavy are in their own world. They always have been, dreaming away out there in California, where their operation is cloaked in a bit of mystery, but it’s becoming an increasingly love-it-or-leave-it scenario.
Rodarte’s spring collection was inspired by poets, not one in particular, though Kate named Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Emily Dickinson backstage after the show. “It was a more romantic interpretation of what a poet would mean in our world,” she said. In that realm, the air is still thick with Seventies and Eighties references, such as a teal disco beaded suit worn with a paisley ruffle and tie-neck blouse, lavender and blue Mongolian shrugs and dance-hall peasant dresses with velvet blouson sleeves, folksy bodices and lace skirts that looked like labors of love assembled at the kitchen table.
Those who have lost patience with the Mulleavys’ homespun vintage fantasies could excavate moments of elevated beauty beneath the Stevie Nicks scarves, floral hair adornment, chandelier earrings, lace tights and metallic dancing shoes. A black lace dress with a gently gathered high collar and lightly feathered hem captured tasteful romantic poetry. An enchanting black-and-white lace gown with cascade shoulders closed the show on a high.
Indisputably niche, Rodarte’s original fan base has been rooting for them to make good on their potential. At this point, that would require a shoe, a bag, a substantial commercially compelling something to buy into. The Mulleavys say they’re interested in such pursuits, but it’s been a slow process. Meanwhile, their world is evolving in other directions, like their first feature film.