Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy are very good at keeping a secret. I had been stalking their social media for several weeks in advance of today’s show hoping to get some clue as to what direction they might go. Sure, there were the most subtle of hints. NARS makeup. Swarovski crystals. Something blue. That’s as much as they would hint, though. So it was a surprise to everyone, and a very pleasant surprise at that, when they delivered a mermaid-inspired collection that took us under the sea, and at the same time made us very happy to have legs.
Silhouettes start with a black and white look, very nautical in the sense that these girls just might be pirates. There are ruffle on the shirts, the white pants are skin tight, and their black, front laced, open toed boots come all the way up mid-thigh. Oh my. The girls then adding in these very sheer, slightly layered, very asymmetrical skirts, still with ruffled shirts, but also with very long scarves. For quite a while, the looks go back and forth between the pirate and the mermaid. As we go, the black and white gives way to shades of blue and gold. After the 15th look, the seaman goes away completely. The skirts grow longer and more wispy. Bodices begin to glisten as dresses are layered with pieces of crystal caught in drapes of fishnet. By the time we get to the last four looks, the transformation is complete. One almost expects the final model to jump into a pool of water and swim away.
How well is this collection going to resonate with shoppers? I’m guessing extremely well. Everyone likes a collection that tells a story, and this one certainly does. Rodarte also tends to be a favorite of the more alternatively minded shopper, and there was a lot here, especially with the creative use of fishnet through a large number of the pieces, that appeals to that audience. Several are also going to be taken in by the string of hooped piercings across each eye brow (not something one easily notices in the full-length pictures). No, the piercings aren’t real, but I won’t be the least be surprised when I see the look on the faces of young females wishing to distance themselves from the mainstream.
Another aspect that is going to work well for the designing sisters is the number of choices they give their shoppers. The “pirate” look is extremely fitted for those whose bodies allow them to make that look work. Yet, there are also some over-sized coats and jackets, their fishnet-covered sleeves encrusted with milky crystal, that allow one to stylishly hide that little bit of a tummy bulge or completely ignore the fact that most women aren’t even close to being a size 2. The dresses are more loose, flowing, and beautiful by most any standard. And what little girl born in the past 25 years hasn’t wanted to grow up to be a mermaid, at least for a few minutes?
I think this may well be Rodarte’s most commercially popular collection ever, which might actually be a bit of a problem. Rodarte’s always been a bit of an outsider’s label. If everyone starts wearing the brand, then it’s no longer the badge of an outsider, is it?
Photo credit: Yannis Vlamos