At any given fashion month, the collections that tend to stand out are those where designers stick to what they do best, and do it incredibly well. If that’s the case then Rodarte’s spring summer ‘22 collection is one to remember: packed full of the floaty, romantic dresses that hace made Kate and Laura Mulleavy a household name, beloved by so many well-heeled A-listers, it’s impossible to name them all (short list: Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Kirsten Dunst, Anya Taylor-Joy).
The Mulleavy sisters are too smart a duo to have floundered during lockdown—they quickly pivoted to create chic loungewear, silk pyjamas, and comfy leggings—but their designs are best suited to a life spent outside. Namely, spent attending fabulous garden parties, weddings in far-flung locales, and date nights at the kind of restaurants where a floor-skimming polka dot dress doesn’t feel out of place. They’re clothes for the exact occasions we’ve spent the last 18 months desperately missing, and perfectly embody the careless, free-floating sensibility we’re slowly clawing towards in our idealized post-vax ‘roaring 20s’.
Highlights included ivory silk slips affixed with black lace bodices, cut-out dresses covered with oversized rosettes, and gowns dripping in delicate crystal tassels (in the unseasonably warm New York weather, they all literally billowed in the wind). But there was a surprising motif existing throughout the collection, a kind of cosmic, new-age sensibility that wouldn’t feel out of place in the music video for Lorde’s ‘Mood Ring’. An oversized silk cape featured large sequin appliques of aliens, UFOs, suns, and rolling hills. Lilac and peach dresses were printed with trippy ‘magic’ mushrooms.
The latter actually wasn’t actually a reference to psychedelics but an homage to the Mulleavy parents: the sisters’ father is a botanist specializing in fungi, and their mother, an artist, hand drew the mushroom prints herself. Rodarte has long been a family affair, the sisters insisting on remaining an independent brand, even as their global reach exploded. “Luxury means having an idea and showcasing it to the world, and allowing this idea to lead to something, not just focusing on doing it quickly” they once told NOWFASHION. It’s an ethos that still inspires the brand to this day: some of their dresses take up to 150 hours to create by hand. In an industry where things move so obscenely fast, an afternoon with Rodarte feels a little like the calm in the eye of the storm.