There are two themes emerging during this New York Fashion Week—one is classic, pared-back clothing rooted in day-to-day wearability (think Chloë Sevigny’s opening look for Proenza Schouler). The other is a kind of bold escapism: fashion as pure fantasy. If anyone can do the latter, it’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. The California-based sisters are renowned for their otherworldly, ethereal designs: feminine gowns with cascading tulle, delicate lace overlays and intricate floral embellishments. Their pieces are loved by everyone from Kirsten Dunst to Margot Robbie and Florence Pugh, are designed so impeccably that the brand was invited to show on the Paris Fashion Week schedule back in 2016.
It was in New York City, however, that Rodarte opted to show fall/winter 2023, a welcome homecoming that laid the foundation for one of the brand’s most ambitious shows to date. Set at the former Williamsburg Savings Bank—a cascading dome-like space—the sisters welcomed guests including Brie Larson, Beanie Feldstein, Orville Peck, and Rowan Blanchard to a runway that resembled a gothic banquet, complete with rows of lit candelabras and plates of food painted silver. Models wove through the long tables to unveil a collection that had a decidedly witchy feel. The opening look? A black skin tight jersey gown with statement bellsleeves so big they hit the ground. Then there was the return of the “cobweb knit” pioneered by the sisters back in 2008. They revived the look—hand-made knitwear inspired by the artist Eva Hesse’s string sculptures—for F/W ‘23, with full-length dresses in yellow and silver.
This darker sensibility was balanced with a surprising recurring motif: fairies. The sisters asked their artist mother (and longtime collaborator) Victoria Mulleavy to draw pencil illustrations of fairies, which they then blew up and printed on feather-embellished silk caftan gowns. Some looks even featured embellished fairy wings. There was a decidedly ‘30s feel, including modest velvet dresses with dramatic lace collars. One wouldn’t be surprised to find out the designers had been Addams-family obsessed following the release of Wednesday—the opening all black looks were very Morticia Addams. Among the most striking looks were the final two—voluminous gowns covered in metallic fringing. This season Rodarte said “more is more”. The result was a sartorial feast worthy of the show’s setting.