“We started with the idea of birds leaving the city,” said Laura Mulleavy, explaining the origins of the Autumn 2015 Rodarte show, which was as fresh as it was compelling.
Finally, after a decade of hovering between a streetwise vulgarity and romance with a dark edge, it seemed as though the Rodarte sisters, Kate and Laura, had hit the perfect fashion note.
The difference was that for the daywear, the seedy side — suggestive of dubious downtown LA — was smartened up with tailored jackets or even a roomy coat, worn with short skirts, stretch leather pants and skinny hose, often with lace running down the side.
These women in their tweed blazers, softened with lacy tops, looked less fragile than the typical Mulleavy image, and more in charge of their destinies.
But, suddenly, these powerful women, walking through a set of fallen branches, were descended upon by a flock of colourful figures. The invaders wore dresses of intense colour with layers of crystal stripes and flowers that blazed like neon lighting.
Then, like departing birds, the flock of glitter flew away, replaced by more ethereal draped dresses, decorated with wispy feathers. Backstage, the duo could no longer remember how the original storyline had first unfolded.
The lyrical beauty of the eveningwear had no trace of the blood-and-gore stories from which the siblings had started their collections. Nor was there anything approaching the Star Wars references we have seen previously.
There may have been a faint undercurrent of discomfort, but every single outfit was wearable — the first truly desirable fashion collection that Rodarte has offered. Which is probably why this season it was the hard-nosed American buyers, not press and friends, who were the first ones backstage with heartfelt congratulations.