FADER NYFW, Spring 2014
Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy have always been punks at heart, crafting their collections with a DIY ethos that has increasingly shifted from art to commerce. The self-taught design duo started out working from a cottage in Pasadena and, like their peers Creatures of the Wind, took inspiration from their outsider status. This is best echoed throughout their fall 2008 line, a collection of tattered knit dresses that showed off their superior fast-learned craftsmanship—now immortalized by the MET's recent Costume Institute Punk exhibit—but it also comes across in the subversive, early-career evening wear, with its unconventional draping and bold sheers. So when they sent out their spring 2014 collection yesterday, which represented their vision of a “wild LA girl,” who seemingly hails from the ‘80s, it was all the more shocking to see that they’ve lost their edge.
Unlike previous collections, there wasn’t a lot left to the imagination. Yes, there was a lot of skin, and much of it belonged to animals. There were zebra, tiger, leopard, and python-embossed hot pants, zebra and tiger flamenco dresses, and a crocodile-stamped leather skirt with contrast fringe, all paired with wild print kicks. It was a sensory barrage that felt like it belonged more in the closet of a fallen showgirl than a wild child. There was also some street wear styling, like backwards snapbacks and plaid shirts buttoned only once, up top. While this gauche display seemed out of character for the Mulleavy sisters, who’ve earned mainstream recognition over the past few years by dressing demure red carpet starlets, there were a few warning signs in their tie-dye-splashed ‘80s-recalling fall 2013 collection, which would have benefited from more editing. Perhaps their spring ’14 collection was a move simply intended to shock, the move fellow LA designer Hedi Slimane pulled with his Saint Laurent debut. If that’s the case, or not, hopefully by next season they’ll learn rebellion can be most compelling when it’s understated.