Over the last few season’s America’s most whimsical designers, sister’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, have successfully transformed their collections from unapologetically romantic, sculptural feats to wearable day and eveningwear, while maintaining the conceptual underpinnings they’ve become known and loved for. For A/W 2012, Rodarte cemented this marriage of art and commerce with perhaps their most commercially viable collection yet, inspired by the rugged Australian outback.
Demure forties-inspired silhouettes were consistent throughout as both modest day dresses (typically conceived in muted tones) and striking all-over-print evening gowns – the rustic, earthy palette and arresting textile prints clearly referencing Aboriginal cave art and dot paintings. Undoubtedly the strongest looks were all leather – in the form of tailored dresses, and killer black and white shearling coats and cropped jackets that while taking direction from 40s aviator style gave the collection a much-needed contemporary edge.
In fact, it was the outerwear that anchored the collection firmly in the now – the svelte, elegant tailoring offering a reprise from the somewhat loose-fitting day-dresses. The beautifully tailored skirt suits (which brought to mind Nicole Kidman’s prim-and-proper ensembles in Baz Lurhman’s faux-epic Australia), were standouts, and of course the finale hand-print and dot painting inspired floorsweeping gowns couldn’t help but steal the show – the only reservation being, for an Australian like myself, that the motifs – much as I tried to wipe the visions from my mind – brought to mind Qantas Aboriginal-print stewardess uniforms. Win some, lose some.