NYFW S/S ‘12 Report: Rodarte

14 September 2011

There's no question that Rodarte is now the hippest show on the New York Fashion Week schedule. Will any other designer label this week be able to match the Mulleavy sisters' art-house-meets A-list line-up? From mega-stars like Beyonce Knowles and Taylor Swift to indie teen actressses Elle and Dakota Fanning, as well as high brow darlings David Byrne, Rooney Mara (the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and artist Miranda July, the label's quirky couture cool now appeals right across the board.

Rodarte is known for a creepy twisted fairytale aesthetic, fuelled by the designer sisters' love of horror movies, but none of it that darkness was present this season, as they turned to a twisted genius for inspiration instead. The designers, ex-art history students both, had clearly been studying Vincent van Gogh - recreating his iconic Sunflowers and Starry Nights paintings for the collection, in a summery palette of gold, aqua and midnight blue.  

The sunflower print dresses that kicked off the collection were everything that Rodarte do best - the little girl 'Sunday best' dress silhouette beloved of the new teen movie stars like the Fanning sisters, as well as hipster actresses like absentee Rodarte devotee Kristen Dunst. These came with sailor collars and major heels (chunky metal heels, sequinned ankle straps, peep toes) to balance out the wide prom skirts.

Alongside the dresses were sleeveless tunic tops with slim cropped trousers, in metallic, crinkled sunflower yellow, or shiny techno layered lilac showing the Mulleavy sisters have lost none of their artisanal appetite for experimenting with fabrics.

Standout pieces included the faded digital prints of rustic sunflowers and quiet aquas highlighted with cornfield yellow flowers on off-the-shoulder chiffon layered gowns, which were beautifully restrained. At other times Van Gogh's manic Starry Night daubings were the perfect high energy prints for early-Eighties disco-style ruffled mini dresses - pretty, but sophisticated.

And for the red carpet, not trashy reveal-all jersey slinkiness to please Beyonce, but the Rodarte take on glamour: a flouncy tiered and layered sparkle embellished dress in Starry Nights shades of deepest blues and purples, and a shorter asymmetric version with Van Gosh's distinctive sky-swirls recreated in sequins.

There were solid colours too; limes and lilacs, and knitwear colour blocked in sky blue and golden basket weaves but it will be Rodarte's painterly prints that stand out next season.  

- Angela Buttolph


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