Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, with their penchant for romantic aesthetics, recently unveiled their Spring/Summer 2024 collection that resonates with themes of rejuvenation and homage to their legacy. Delving into the concept of “clothing as gardens and flowers,” the collection symbolizes human blossoming while paying homage to Rodarte’s historic use of textures and colors. However, contrary to popular belief, this collection is far from being reserved for wallflowers.
The Spring/Summer 2024 collection by Rodarte showcases a garden of designs that bloom with opulence, revisiting the past while maintaining a contemporary appeal. Inspired by the idea of people blooming and the history of textures and color from Rodarte, the Mulleavy sisters have weaved a tale of rebirth and celebration in this latest collection.
The collection commenced with an opening gown that epitomizes the essence of the entire line. With a bodice crafted from layers of purple and black lace, beaded embroidery at the bust, and a sweeping voluminous skirt made from strips of organza in gradient shades of purple, this piece set the stage for what was to come. Accompanied by a matching capelet in the same organza ruffles, the gown indicated that while the collection drew inspiration from flowers, it was certainly not designed for the faint of heart.
In a departure from the typical, the collection featured a few ballgowns, yet the majority of the pieces showcased narrow and elongated silhouettes. The silk bias-cut slip dresses, some adorned with small sleeves, exuded a 1930s aura. However, it was the color palette – ranging from bright iris, peony yellow, emerald green, cornflower, to ultramarine, accentuated with black lace appliqués or black velvet bows – that cemented these dresses as products of our current era. Kate elucidated this aspect, stating, “Even if we’re referencing an era, I don’t think that the overall coming-together of a collection ever feels vintage. So even if it’s a vibe or a cut that you could align with a time period somehow by the color or the construction, it feels fresh.”
A notable highlight of the collection was a series of dresses made from an all-over beaded fabric. This included a ballet pink column with a delicate peplum and halter neckline, a short sleeve number in emerald green with a ruffled hem and a sculptural neckline that extended past the shoulders, and a column gown with a drop waist and tiered ruffles in a captivating shade of orchid purple. Despite their sparkly allure, these dresses concealed the technical effort required in their construction, particularly the last one, which featured ruffles shaped by horsehair. Kate divulged the complexities, stating, “It was one of the more difficult, construction-wise. What you don’t realize is that the dress is what it wants to be, and there’s no getting around that – there’s not a single machine stitch in it.”
However, the pièce de résistance of the collection was undoubtedly the ruffle dresses, a nod to Rodarte’s inaugural collection in 2006. Comprising vertical ruffles assembled from varied colors of silk organza, silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, and silk georgette, and adorned with fabric rosettes, these dresses displayed the designers’ mastery of color. A short version in shades of lilac exuded youthful charm, while a long-sleeved version in hues of blue and white created a dramatic effect. A sleeveless variant that combined red, yellow, green, purple, black, and turquoise showcased the designers’ profound understanding of color. Kate elaborated on this, stating, “Color is something we’re really sensitive to as designers, and I feel like this is part of that, but it’s also something that you don’t realize until you are constructing the dresses. A lot of people are interested in silhouette first; but I feel like we’re a hundred percent interested in color and texture first, and then it’s about building out the silhouettes.”