Rodarte's Surprising Take on the 'Real' L.A. Girl

Backstage, the designers said they were inspired by the real LA girl. What that means is open to interpretation but based on the clothes that came down the runway she's not the typical tanned and veneered Hollywood starlet.
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Leah Chernikoff
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Backstage, the designers said they were inspired by the real LA girl. What that means is open to interpretation but based on the clothes that came down the runway she's not the typical tanned and veneered Hollywood starlet.
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Here's the thing I love about Rodarte: Being based in L.A. means the Mulleavy sisters are so removed from the fashion circus, so in their own world of art and horror movies and crafts, that you know you're going to see something wholly original every time they put out a collection. That's not an easy thing to do in this internet age when the same images of the same collections get circulated and everything starts to look the same.

Backstage, the designers said they were inspired by the real L.A. girl. What that means is open to interpretation but based on the clothes that came down the runway she's not the typical tanned and veneered Hollywood starlet. To me, the collection looked inspired by, bear with me here, a chola version of Jem and the Holograms. There were fringed leather mini skirts with big belts slapped over them paired with matching bra tops and oversized tiger or leopard printed tuxedo jackets with the sleeves pushed up; some models wore only hot pants (of the denim or animal print variety) with a vest and a suit jacket--or just a bra.

It was out there. And something about waif-y models, most of whom hail from places far from L.A., rocking backwards baseball caps and plaid men's style button down shirts buttoned only at the collar, evoking that Latin "cholo" style, made me feel a bit icky. Robin Givhan, writing for The Cut, perfectly articulated my gut "ick" feeling:

Certainly, attempting to domesticate a style that was born from defiance and filled with its own wild glamour has a precedent. Fashion companies have reaped great rewards by appropriating street culture and sanitizing it for broad consumption. And you'll find no argument here about who owns what and who has the right to exploit it. But the Mulleavys did not do justice to their inspiration. By removing an aesthetic that percolated on the street from its natural habitat and putting it into the rarefied space of a Chelsea gallery, the Mulleavys, in effect, left it open to misrepresentation and ridicule.

So, there's that. Still, we'll be watching with rapt curiosity to see what the Mulleavys unveil next season.

Photos: Imaxtree