When the designers behind Rodarte dream up an idea for a collection, they don't rely too heavily on the use of mood boards, nor do they map out exactly how they are going to reference their inspiration in each garment. This design duo is far too cerebral and unconventional for that. "It's not specific references, really just a feeling," says Kate Mulleavy, one half of the Los Angeles-based design pair. "We tend to be fairly abstract." The “we” she is referring to is her and her sister, Laura, who helm the ten-year old, award-winning label, known for its intricate hand-stitching, as well as the sister’s other old-world techniques that could be likened more to couture than to most ready-to-wear. And the feeling they had for F/W 2016: "The Godfather."
For their Fall/Winter 2016 collection, which they showed Tuesday in a Chelsea gallery space, the sisters said they were inspired by another movie. (You may recall that the dup referenced Star Wars for their F/W 2014 collection). While visiting San Francisco, they decided this season would be dedicated loosely to "The Godfather" trilogy, the three feature-length crime films directed by Francis Ford Coppola and inspired by the novel of the same name by Italian-American author Mario Puzo. "We were in this cafe that we used to go to and we remembered hearing that Francis Ford Coppola had written some of 'The Godfather' in the cafe. And we just had this idea that it would be interesting to do a collection inspired by that film, and at the same time about my experience of San Francisco, references like art nouveau, old posters from film noir, things like that," Laura told the AP.
As is often with the Mulleavys, the garments relied heavy on the use of lace, intricate embroidery, and a mixture of differing fabrics. The color palate was mostly black, white, and red (indicative of blood, perhaps?). There were interesting takes on the classic leather trench, and elegant odes to undergarments - the latter being done all in lace, of course. There was a bride – or two, in fact – in all white. One wore a delicate veil – a specific "Godfather" reference, according to Kate Mulleavy. There was a matching bride in all black, too, but she is more likely than not wearing a funeral veil than the marrying kind.
As the AP notes, “Rodarte collections often touch heavily on themes of nature, and was not lost here. Long fur jackets, with horizontal stripes of bold color — one of them combined white, brown, red and yellow — were meant to echo moth wings, Mulleavy said. ‘You know when you look at moths you're like, 'How can they come in so many amazing different colors?' she said. ‘So we kind of just played with that.’ A number of the embroideries were based on birds and butterflies, as well, and jewelry focused heavily on flowers.”
And so, the dark theme did not put a damper on their penchant for ethereal dressing, as evidenced by the tiered lace midi-length frock towards then end or the three final gowns with their floral embroideries and delicate lace trappings. There are romantic elements to Puzo's tales, after all.