NEW YORK, United States — The soundtrack for Rodarte’s show was the classic rock of ELO. Kate Mulleavy said the orchestral treatments conjured up “parallel worlds” (a nice namecheck for the band who are about to release their first album in 14 years). On the evidence of a decade’s worth of collections, parallel worlds are something Kate and her sister Laura are pretty familiar with. They’re famously fans of Star Wars, for instance. Their latest show was staged amongst a thicket of light sabers (actually a “techno garden” of neon tubing), though its inspiration was the romantic past, rather than the retro future. And, for a change, the sisters surrendered to a feeling, rather than any particular visual reference.
Romantic poetry tends to have that effect on people. And the Mulleavys have been reading a lot of poetry, from the classics like Emily Dickinson to the contemporary bard of the lovelorn Leonard Cohen. But it wasn't immediately clear how that deeprooted emotion translated into clothes that had all the surface glitter of a particularly glamorous honky tonk. Heightened waists flared into flippy skirts, sheer and sparkling. Lacy legs ended in metallic Art Deco heels, ideal for goodtime girls on a toot. The glam element was heightened by meticulously hand-beaded pieces, high-waisted velvet pants, long, trailing scarves and swathes of Mongolian lamb.
The Mulleavys are about to direct their first movie, starring their friend Kirsten Dunst. There were certainly enough character-driven outfits here to keep a wardrobe mistress busy. At one point, a French maid even put in an appearance. It set the mind to speculation on the carefully guarded nature of their movie project. A decadent romance? A musical? They've made the costumes. Now they just need to make the film.