For the Rodarte Spring 2021 RTW collection, sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy presented not the highly detailed, hand-worked gowns but rather dreamy, bed-worthy separates for a stay-at-home lifestyle.
A fanciful gown has little place in today’s world, so instead they channeled their efforts into clothing they would want to wear now “without distilling the ideas.” What they’ve gained from a decade and a half in business is a firm understanding of their brand codes: florals, veils, just slightly off sweetness.
With this collection, they have proven their ability to make inherently useful garments that don’t compromise on the Rodarte DNA. Pajama sets, slips, and robes appear in dainty and orderly floral prints inspired by their local gardens. The floral story continues in the ’40s dresses they played with last season, now relaxed in shape with prints that radiate from the navel or appear in handkerchief-like grids. Silk sweatshirts, trackpants, and midi-skirts continue the motif, trimmed in lace or ruffles. Twill trousers in pastel shades of blue and pink are the rare unprinted items.
All this is topped off with silk floral wreaths that frame models’ faces, giving them the impression of fairies, nymphs, or other magical woodland sprites. But seeing them alight in the California hills, photographed for the look book on late summer’s few habitable days between a heatwave and a fire, gives their whimsical frocks, bobby socks, and lace Church gloves a haunting undertone. As masterful image makers, the Mulleavys can embed many visual messages into a single moment. The sisters spoke of this collection being “a centering of thought,” and with a simple beauty painted against the devastation of our times, they managed to create a potent fantasy: one where we get through this without losing our sense of wonder.