Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters are nothing if not dreamers--and for their spring 2012 collection they got lost in Van Gogh's dream world. Dresses with the post-Impressionist painter's sunflowers and swirly stars from his starry nights floated down the runway.
The stars were watching the runway as well: Elle and Dakota Fanning, Beyonce and Solange Knowles, and Taylor Swift were there in the front row. Not too shabby. To counter the mainstream stars and the heaps of praise and attention Rodarte has received, the sisters’ chose a reference point that speaks to the heart of the creative person. Van Gogh—a mentally unbalanced genius who died alone, impoverished, unrecognized in his time—is a model for struggling artist, the outsider, he whose passion overcomes every other notion of his being, including his own physical body (he cut off his own ear; he shot himself in the chest).
The sisters Mulleavy will have people talking with this collection. And if the response is more shock than awe, the intelligence and originality in this effort should subdue any such moaning.
Songs by Morrissey and Mazzy Star, prepared by Michel Gaubert and accompanied by Taylor Swift, helped you feel the airy layers of a Starry Night-hued frock. A wrinkled leather lambskin top, in a nearly unbelievable acid green, looked for madness and control, levity and weight, all at once. For every earth-toned, box-pleated dress, there were off-the-shoulder features. The structured garments reached out to the spirit of the tortured artist, but did not want to go as far as his grand and terrible finale. Van Gogh’s last words, apparently, were “The sadness will last forever.” No it won’t, says Rodarte.
**All photos: Imaxtree