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Rodarte's Darkly Romantic Fall 2020 Runway Was Set Inside a Church

Laura and Kate Mulleavy revisit their cinematic roots for an incredibly strong collection.

Most days of the year, St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue serves as a parish for the Episcopal Diocese of New York. But as the bells chimed to mark the hour, the building instead welcomed visitors searching for a different moment of reflection: a Rodarte fashion show.

The building — which once hosted Alexander Wang's Fall 2016 show — was the perfect spot to stage Kate and Laura Mulleavy's vision for Fall 2020. The duo have always mined their favorite films and cinematic moments for inspiration, and this season it seems vampires and other gothic characters were on the brain. 

Often garments looked like they could have been part of costumes for films like "The Hunger" or "Bram Stoker's Dracula" — whether it was a dress featuring big, '80s shoulder pads or sleeves dripping with beaded "blood." There was a tinge of "Only Lovers Left Alive" in the lush brocades, or "What We Do in the Shadows" in the vested, menswear-inspired pieces.

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Embellishment was used to great effect: jeweled spiders perched at the neck of a button down or spun a web across the bodice of a dress; sparkle across a white tulle gown gave the effect of blood spatter. It was a darkly romantic collection, where even the florals felt a little morose in their beauty. Towards the end, models wearing delicately-draped eveningwear carried stoles or wore crowns made of live orchids, some of which fell to the runway. 

It was the finale look, however, which would prove to be the showstopper. The model looked all at once like a bride, a statue of the Virgin Mary and a funereal figure in her cream-colored gown featuring a tiny floral print. Behind her trailed several feet of blue satin, and atop her head sat a headpiece made of orchids which matched the pale blues of her eyes. The effect was slightly chilling but remarkably beautiful — Rodarte, in other words, at its best.

See the complete Rodarte Fall 2020 collection in the gallery below:

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