Such technical words like recalibration or pragmatism seem to have no place in the Rodarte world. Look at the gentle kiss of snow on the hedges in Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s new fall 2022 imagery, the fallen magnolia leaves, the Leonardian impossible landscape in brooding rose and dust. What place would marketing jargon have in this serene haven?
In place of any raw-toothed tactical strategy, the sisters have intuition. Over 2020 and 2021, their innate sense of woman-ness has led them to swing their pendulum into collections about optimism, comfort, sweetness, sparkle, and motion. What they’ve landed on here, for fall 2022, is equilibrium.
In pastel imagery by Daria Kobayashi Rich, with set design by Tina Pappas and Adam Siegel and floral design by Joseph Free, the Mulleavys have found the happiest, tenderest of marriages between the tiered cascades of blush tulle worn by Lili Reinhart, the crisp pink suiting given by Janicza Bravo, the patterned tea dress on Marlee Matlin, and the jeans—yes jeans, not seen this side of a Rodarte collection since 2015—and legwarmers on Laura Love. “The fantasy of what we want to do and create is the number one driving force,” demurs Kate, but when the Rodarte fantasy intersects so potentially with reality as it does here, the designers’ honestness can feel more relevant than ever.
The Mulleavys dug deep into their core for this collection. Ballet has been a long time reference for them, the fury of dancers’ fragility and power vibrating in most Rodarte collections. They, of course, famously explored this in their costumes for Black Swan, and the film reconates abstractly in their blush-to-black palette this season. In between, they make pit stops in bright fuchsia and teal, resurrecting their famous spiderweb knits from fall 2008. “They are practical in a sense that they mold to your body and impractical in the most amazing way,” says Kate of the signature knits . The original versions—mini tube dresses and long cardigans—are back to the sure joy of many fans, but the sisters aren’t just playing to archive-mania. They’ve also made bustiers and capes in the knit, the latter worn by Lana Condor in a blue look trimmed in feathers. “The cape,” Kate says, “is practical and whimsical.” And sometimes you need fashion to be just that, equal parts a slip dress and a fantasia. It’s that kind of magic that makes so many celebrities show up for a Rodarte photoshoot: The girls who get it, get it.