Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Rodarte:Road Warrior Princesses
Death Valley. Kill or be killed. Tribal fashion warfare. The dark forbidding lands beyond New Jersey. Oh, and war paint..... The line has been drawn in the desert sands and it's about the apocalypse. The Goth warrior princess Sheena, the she hellion, and her handmaidens are playing dress up for we mere mortals.
Well I for one lay on the floor of the taxi all the way home and immediately locked all windows and doors. I still don't feel safe and am sure not to sleep tonight or any other for that matter. The Mulleavy sisters need to come back to civilization. They are becoming feral cats , more dangerous than just designers. The vision they see for Spring 2010 is filled with the remnants of a civilization no longer in existence. It is a scavenging wonder in the guise of dressmaking.
I saw the influences of Madame Gres, John Galliano and Ralph Rucci. So many techniques were employed that remind me of these legends. That is not meant to diminish what they do, it's a compliment to their ability to draw from the past and present to make an aesthetic all their own.What troubles me about Rodarte is that these clothes are almost impossible to build a business that appeals only to the most insider of audiences. To construct these clothes for retail will be an exercise in frustration. Unlike Rucci whose clothes are absurdly complex there's a symmetry that makes the mathematical question solvable using a clear logic. Their most compelling and wearable pieces employed leather bands to create a fantastic web. Strands of rope fringe hang from under the bodice and are caught with a belt at the waist.
The frustration I felt watching one exit after the other was the sameness that eventually deadened my mind to what was coming next. The idea of costumes and one of a kind looks felt like Imitation of Christ at it's most ambitious. It takes a clever imagination, which is doubly rich between the sisters, but ultimately has little to do with a world looking for clothes that have multi purposes. The most obvious one are clothes that are wearable with staying power. These designs are clearly editorial looks and not meant for repeated use. Once seen, they have little that lends them to multiple wearings. One black evening gown which feels like a deconstructed Gres is one of the most beautiful seen on this season's runway. It's haunting and elegant and totally captivating. I wish more of the collection had it's weight and mystery. The single most wearable piece is a black pant.
I'm befuddled when I think of the deal they've inked with Target. Why would Target choose such limited , specific designers who resonate most clearly with a customer who rarely walks through those doors. Their notoriety and popularity is off the radar of the Target shopper. Isaac Mizrahi, they aren't. Jacqueline Smith, they will never be. So what do they bring to the Target table? It has to be the most diluted and derivative clothes that only resemble their own collection by way of the label that will say Rodate for Target. The clothes will have to be completely different and dumbed down to sell, if they sell.
I applaud their attempt to broaden their reach, but it's unfortunate that it will come with restrictions that will most likely not allow them to use their own voices. The money they will make to feed their eponymous collection is an end unto itself. Schizophrenia in design is a high price for two women who have steadfastly stuck to their guns, or in the case of this collection, their spears.