Tuesday, 11 September 2018

meet you at the cemetery gates: rodarte spring 2019

When Thomas Gray wrote 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard', he was not thinking of New York Fashion Week, but there was certainly a poetic atmosphere in the rainy cemetery where Rodarte showed their Spring 2019 collection. A cluster of edgy celebrity fans were in attendance, including Kim Gordon, Whoopi Goldberg and Grace Coddington. Invitations warned that the show would take place in an uncovered garden, ominously advising guests to dress accordingly. Pouring rain over a 19th century cemetery is hardly the essence of the far-flung fast-paced glamour that New York fashion usually exudes. However, it was Rodarte's first NYFW show in two years. The designer duo have shown their last three collections in Paris, following the couture schedule which is of a definitively slower pace than ready-to-wear. It makes sense that as they return to New York, the Mulleavy sisters continue down a less trodden path; albeit through a wet, slippery graveyard. 

Rodarte's Fall 2018 collection, presented in January featured a cast of celebrities and Mulleavy muses, including Grimes, Kirsten Dunst and Joanna Newsom. The casting of celebrities over models and the decision not to host a show suggested that the brand was moving in a more commercial direction. The fairytale disco looks were cute, but lacked the romance that Rodarte is known for. In fact, I would say that before this week's collection, Rodarte had not been at its best since Spring 2016, which was their last show at New York Fashion Week.

So, the clothes themselves. Despite the somewhat dreary backdrop, the collection opened with the essence of an '80s disco. I can see the first two ruffled, metallic, leather look pieces being worn by Solange as she's worn showstopping metallic red carpet looks before. Ruffles are a Rodarte staple. Usually seen in lace, these metallic alternatives update the collection, injecting a party girl vibe. Although, the later silver and gold incarnations of this look like toffee wrappers, I'm still here for it.

I'm not sure what the exact inspiration behind the collection was but there is definitely a European aesthetic woven throughout. The roses in the hair are reminiscent of Dolce & Gabbana's Spring 2015 collection with a touch of both Sicilian style and classic flamenco details. Whilst the cemetery is non-sectarian, a number of the looks would not have been out of place at this year's Met Gala: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Elsewhere, Birkin-esque crochet dresses have the cool French girl vibe that the fashion world adores.

Bright blues and pinks broke up the graveyard ethereality. Rodarte usually eschews trends, but brights and neons have emerged as a Spring 2019 favourite. I'm not sure about it and the Mulleavy's are definitely at their best when they stick to a pallete of pastels, metallics and monochrome. Frothy pastels are the brand at its finest. This season the most unique additions were puffy tulle sleeves. Following her iconic Molly Goddard moment, this is something I can see Rihanna really pulling off.

There were dresses fit for weddings and dresses fit for mourning. The result of this was a Miss Havisham mood with veils adding to the ghostly atmosphere. I am not a fan of wedding dress looks outside of showstopping couture as white dresses in general are quite boring. The most objectively beautiful and intricately detailed dress was look 29 (above left.) Although it is positioned in the middle of the show, its classic elegance and delicate beading was impossible to ignore.

Overall, Rodarte's return to New York Fashion Week proves that they can still produce standout collections that provoke pause for thought amongst the chaotic bustle of a busy fashion month. Cemeteries in the rain are usually reserved for poets and depressives, but maybe the Mulleavy sisters will remind the industry of the poetry at the heart of all the greatest collections.

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