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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyNYFW: Rodarte — Bees Without Menace?

The subtext was gentle by the duo's standards, but Laura and Kate Mulleavy still work on the edgy side of beauty

16 Сентября 2016


Ah, beautiful bees! How they buzz and how they sting — honey sweet, but dangerous too.

A theme from Rodarte has always been a frisson of unknown danger. And as the models in their long lacy dresses navigated beds of dried up flowers, I was waiting for something unexpected — the little model of a bird hidden in the undergrowth might flutter to life, or get tangled in loose hair done up with ribbons and sparkles.


Nature might somehow turn nasty on these pretty dresses.

But nothing untoward happened — no splatters of blood seen before at a Rodarte show, nor a sense of menace — unless you count a rocker couple covered in studs who might have represented baddies on the run.


The rest suggested love and femininity — a lace dress with a heart covering the breast and, above tailored trousers, a cropped top covered in frills like a bridal outfit.

"It was gentle. We were inspired by a Spanish movie we really love called The Spirit of the Beehive," said Kate Mulleavy, speaking too for her sister Laura.


"It is about two children whose father keeps bees. So we tried to do girl's hair like a kid would do it. We had sunflowers in the summer in our house and so many bees that started to pollen."

Although I knew it was unfair to insist that there must be something sinister in this story — as there has been so often before with Rodarte — I continued to quiz Kate about what might be hidden behind this orgy of prettiness.


The only breaks in the cloud of lacy white or black were a pink floral dress scattered with glittering stars and one single blood red dress with frilly shoulders and a scarlet ribbon in the hair. In these lovely clothes you could hardly imagine an outing that wasn't a party or a wedding.


Was there really nothing ominous behind this childishly elegant collection?

"Sometimes I feel like very beautiful things can mean more than pushing to some extreme idea," Kate said.

"I take a breath and do something that just flows from me and has a calmness — and it is actually more dangerous because it's in reverse."


I know how difficult it can be for designers to express the deep thoughts behind their collections. So I just thought about the lacy dresses, often lightly touching the body as they fell gently to the floor. Many of them looked like possible wedding gowns. A few seemed shorter and sharper.


What is really impressive about the Rodarte sisters is that they offer such beautiful workmanship — pearl and leather flowers, ruffled tulle, black lace woven into a honeycomb, or even, the more substantial pieces like the shearling and chiffon coats with leather studs.

It was all sweetness and tranquility. I could practically hear the drone of the bee before it came in to sting.


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