Rodarte’s Hometown Show Was Old Hollywood Magic

Like last-year’s show in an East Village cemetery, it rained again at the Rodarte show in their hometown of Pasadena, which is really some movie magic. But cinematic Casablanca romance meets off-kilter Robert Altman scenes are Rodarte’s lifeblood, and rain—and the front-row presence of none other than John C. Reilly—is proof of that.


The collection was, as COOLS’ editor Alix described, “glam Laura Ashley with a tinge of Heathers.” There were girlish bows, lots of volume, Sweet Sixteen pink, and puffy sleeves. If there are two things that designers are consumed by lately, it’s bows and musicals (things not related, but not NOT related, I suppose.)

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“We were inspired by musicals,” Kate Mulleavy said backstage. “Not really a specific musical but some of the films we’ve been watching lately—anything from ‘All That Jazz’ to Ginger Rogers—the Golden era of Hollywood.”


And speaking of Hollywood, a Rodarte show in a sunny California suburb perhaps heralds a new era for couture in Los Angeles. Seeing a runway show juxtaposed against the dreamy, sprawled-out city backdrop feels so interesting. The Hollywood Reporter called it a “valentine to Los Angeles” which feels right on-point considering the Hallmark red and glittery pink hearts on dresses and shirts. Frills and ruffles flounced up and down hems, while glitter palazzo pants sparkled with cinched cropped tops. They were looks made for studio-system leading ladies like Judy Garland or Ginger Rogers—costumes that would have celebrated Hollywood’s first uses of brilliant color.


“In L.A., we’re surrounded by all these amazing national parks and Angeles National Forest,” Kate Mulleavy told the Reporter. “We’re in the middle of this incredible natural landscape and yet we’re also in an imaginary landscape, a world of musicals, which in terms of film is even a more fantastical leap that people break out into song and dance.”

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Rodarte, much like a good movie, plays with a lot of contrasting dynamics—their pieces often position a facade of innocence against a subtle, unnerving darkness, like a Twin Peaks-esque town. It’s what makes the label so appealing to both dedicated fashion fans and people who may not otherwise pay attention.


Amid the botanical gardens of The Huntington Library, glitter on fabrics and body parts made the show iridescent and completely magical. Hairstylist Odile Gilbert created starlet waves with floral hairpieces that looked like they could have been @brrch_floral arrangements. Makeup artist James Kaliardos told Vogue the looks felt like Bob Fosse with holographic hues of fuschia and crimson.


The clear vinyl heels were, coincidentally, perfect for the rainy day, adding some hard-edged sensuality to otherwise soft angles. The stars that came out—Diane Keaton, Kim Gordon, Tracee Ellis Ross, and of course Reilly—were in theatrical silhouettes themselves, with Keaton in a tailored black pantsuit, and Ross in a deep-purple, ruffled dress that looked like it had just come off the runway she was watching. The whole spectacle felt like a movie set.


“For us, it was really special because we grew up coming to the Huntington, and we live in Pasadena,” Mulleavy told the Los Angeles Times. It just felt like the right thing to do—it just felt natural. And, doing a show in L.A. is so much fun. The energy is so different. There was all this California energy backstage. We just loved it. We said we should all do this again.”


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