Dark romanticism is often confused with gothicism, so it is likely that you will see Rodarte’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection described as “gothic”, but that’s not correct (not everything noir is goth). Pardon the pedantry, but the Mulleavy sisters deserve better accuracy when it comes to one of the best presentations they’ve done in several seasons. Dark romanticism is concerned with salvation and destruction rather than the death and horror associated with gothicism. For the forthcoming season, Rodarte presents a balancing act between life and death, told by a collection that favored both the virgin bride and the corpse bride.
The brand’s memorable Fall/Winter 2016 show started with a formidable black leather jacket trimmed with a surprising frill of ruffles and paired with mesh-lace trousers – or leggings? or tights? It was hard to tell. These were fitted beneath an amazing pair of shoes that looked like an open-laced trimmed Victorian sleeve. Since the language of their design elements was new to the eye, they became hard to describe. We’re not really sure what you would call their shoe hybrids, except for maybe “guaranteed to sell out”.
The complexity of Rodarte’s surfaces transcended the realm of mere beauty to take on a dark, threatening, alluring quality that most would call magic.
More mind-bending looks appeared, like ruffle-trimmed skirts with angled panels that alternated between purple sequined embellishment and smooth camel-colored leather. Sinewy lines of ruffles snaked around leather opera gloves, with elaborate fanned-out flamenco-like construction – a motif that was repeated down the outer side-seam of sparkling mesh-lace pants, on flutter sleeves, and on flipped-up necklines.
Before we forget the corpse bride and her virginal counterpart, let’s take a moment to visit these looks. The virgin bride appeared several times throughout the show, in ivory column gowns and tiered mini dresses, the picture of naive innocence with her hair done up with live flower arrangements. The funereal look featured a model shrouded in black lace from head to toe – even her lips were painted black. But look closer and you’ll see that she was sporting killer disco booties. Clearly, she’s ready to party in the afterlife.
As for outerwear, Rodarte doubled-down with dense, shaggy furs with multi-colored patches tossed on top of collaged leather trench-dresses or paillette-drenched ivory separates. Adorable Victorian dresses served as a template for the Mulleavy’s artistic embellishments, which ranged from thickets of jet-black bugle beading and tiny florets to embroidered flowers. The effect was too pretty for words. The complexity of Rodarte’s surfaces transcended the realm of mere beauty to take on a dark, threatening, alluring quality that most would call magic.