NYFW: RODARTE F/W 2014

R2D2 and C3PO. Remember those. They come in handy later.

Success has come fast and furious for sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Their Rodarte brand is not yet ten years old and has already won more design awards than many see in a lifetime. Their clothes have been seen on the likes of Cate Blanchet, Kiera Knightly, Reese Witherspoon, Kirsten Dunst, and even first lady Michelle Obama. So, if they get a little geeky from time to time and come up with a few pieces that don’t especially make sense to our Midwestern minds, we can forgive them a bit. Right?

Well …

“The Force is strong with this one.”

If we’re going to give this collection an honest treatment, we have to talk about the colors. They’re bright. From the very beginning, the Mulleavy girls give us a whole rainbow of color in the first six looks. They’re gentle pastels to start, but then swing toward darker jewel tones then to metallics, then dark, then … can we call intergalactic a palette?

“Where are you taking this … thing?”

While conversation will likely swirl around the last five pieces, the strength of this collection lies in its layering and its sweaters. There are not only some beautiful pieces with amazing crochet work, but we see layers of knits put together in a very intelligent fashion. The mix of colors, again, from layer to layer, solids and stripes, texture upon texture, is both attractive and original.

“We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.”

Unfortunately, the girls get incredibly geeky with this line and there are some big elements that just don’t work. Let’s start, for example, with the coats. How does one totally mess up a coat? In this case, by removing the shoulders. A shoulderless coat? Really? As I’m typing this, it is a whole 16 degrees outside. This is actually a warm day compared to several we’ve had. Wearing those coat would induce hypothermia in about 4 minutes. Who in their right mind would design a shoulderless coat? Sure, the off-the-shoulder look can be attractive, but there are limits to reason.

Then, there’s the whole hipster/bookworm/school girl thing they get into. No, it doesn’t work. Why does it not work? Sheer pants. Again, it’s winter. Who wears shear pants in winter?

“I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.”

So, we’re going along here with a collection that has more good points than bad, when all of a sudden we’re attacked by images from one of the top-grossing movies of all time. First came a half-destroyed Death Star, then a Tatooine sunset. I’m watching my Twitter feed as this was happening and suddenly my heart sank.

“Oh look, it’s that guy from Star Wars, Luke something …”

“Were those robots on that dress?”

“That looked like one of those gremlin things.”

Sigh.

Okay, so one of the things at which the girls excel is cross-branding. They’ve done it with Target and other stores, so why not do it with Disney? From a marketing stand point, the move makes sense.

But here’s the question: is anyone going to actually buy one of those dresses? And if you do, for what occasion will you wear it? The opening of the next installation of the Star Wars franchise, assuming Disney ever gets it out the door? A theme party? Your second cousin’s wedding?

There were so many good pieces to this collection that I am saddened all anyone is likely to remember are those last five dresses. Fashion deserves better, does it not?

Oh, and those “robots” are droids, children. Their names are at the beginning of this article.

May the force be with you.

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