Rodarte scooped from the ocean floor a strong and sometimes beautiful show, where mesh was the key material. But the more sinister side of this drowned world was never dredged up.
In the fashion journey of their first decade — the 10th birthday is coming up next year — Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s vision for daywear has remained static: Californian street style, a touch trashy, as in super-tight jeans and leather jackets symbolic of urban cool. This season, four pockets on a square jacket were bold and graphic.
The chiffon blouses or ruffled knits that opened the show were in striking contrast to the jeans and the boots, which also had a lace-up mesh theme, while iridescent effects illuminated the clothes and brought them closer to the watery world.
The duo’s eveningwear always has a strange, romantic vibe and was shown here with a light hand and a sense of fragile beauty. As the models threaded across a runway made of neon lights tumbling into Swarowski crystals, glinting like broken glass, there was still a vague sense of the horror movie symbolism with which the Rodarte sisters started in fashion.
The looks were repetitive, but still mesmerising in their hand-spun details and colours, like that wet green film that clings to sea-swept rocks and crustaceans.
Backstage, the sisters said that they had indeed started with an idea of being under the sea, or in tide pools.
Their problem — or maybe it is more a problem for the fashion industry — is that the emotion that Rodarte brought to New York from L.A. — along with blood-drenched, ripped clothes inspired by horror movies — cannot be kept alive in a company that wants to turn a buck.
Just at the last moment, there was a touch of their former magic with three hand-painted gowns, the fabric and colour deliberately aged but illuminated with burned sequins.
Otherwise, there was a feeling of restraint in this summer show — as though Rodarte the brand needs to keep in tune with stores and customers. And the Siren song of these mermaids was only the faintest cry.