One of Spring 2022's biggest emerging trends is getting trippy — literally, collections inspired by or designed for taking a drug or two and skipping off into the sunset towards spiritual awakenings. Monse and Brandon Maxwell are early leaders in this psychedelic movement, but on Saturday, Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte took things from light experimentation to full-on retreat.
The collection started off relatively simple for the sisters, with elegant black-and-white looks that were simultaneously layered and cut away to both hide and reveal the body. There were hints of a nature theme in seashell-inspired beading and abstract prints which took on the form of palm fronds. But — like most trips — things started to get weird as the show went on: Pale pinks gave way to sunset oranges; giant flowers bloomed across dresses and blazers; an alien landed on a beaded cape.
Yet, it was towards the end of the show, when Rodarte pared everything back, that our journey started to take a turn. A pair of dresses emblazoned with a mushroom print — each with capes that caught the wind and dragged behind the models' backs like a parachute — closed out the first segment of the runway. What followed was every model walking barefoot in near-identical mock-neck dresses accessorized only with gold chains, the dresses differentiated only by varying pale shades, from whites and yellows to pinks and lilacs. As they took their places on podiums and in front of statues, it was clear we'd joined the Rodarte commune. And our leader? A model in a billowing purple gown, her arms tucked inside of a cocoon, small succulent in hand.
I am sure there was a cinematic reference or two in there that I don't recognize because I pretty much only ever see Marvel movies anymore. (No one tell on me to Martin Scorsese.) And there were plenty of those over-the-top pieces, like sheer lace gowns with billowing capes and dresses dripping with beads, that have made Rodarte a go-to brand for celebrities looking to make a statement on the red carpet. But there were also deeply wearable — dare I say "staple"? — pieces too: oversized blazers, silky handkerchief skirts, ruffled blouses among them.
It's clear in recent seasons that the Mulleavy sisters are tempering their artistic inspirations with a more wearable (or, that dirty word, "commercial") sensibility — and their work is all the stronger for it.