It’s possible that Kate and Laura Mulleavy heeded the feedback of the past few uneven seasons. It’s possible that during a moment in which the eccentric, awkward girl has become a fashion darling in the hands of Gucci, the Mulleavy’s work — which has plumbed this look since Day One — is ripe for the current eye. It’s also possible that the spring Rodarte lineup was simply a great collection.
This time the label’s homemade, dreamer sensibility gelled with its high-fashion positioning, as the Mulleavy’s elevated their execution while retaining their starry-eyed heart. They built on the crafty, ethereal mixed-lace dresses, littered with folksy floral embellishments and embroideries, that have been the high-point of recent collections, using the obscure Seventies Spanish film “The Spirit of the Beehive” as a reference. Drawn to the film because of its celebration of childlike imagination and because “for some reason we had all these bees on our sunflowers,” said Kate, they used it as a reference for honeycomb laces and pollenlike surface treatments on dresses, some ruffled with Spanish flare.
They came in black and white, some with polka dots, gold floral thread work and hand beading. Lean shapes, whether long or short, kept the collages of ruffles, decorations and breast-plate-like constructions in check. There was a naiveté to the work, but it wasn’t at all juvenile. And a Janis Joplin, gypsy-rock moment of purple dresses, robust shearlings decorated with chiffon and lace and high-waisted trousers trimmed in a chic mess of safety pins and worn with lace cropped tops, gave the collection an attractive, adult grit.