MON BOEUF AVEC RODARTE
I'm not an expert or fashion critic though I might like to be, and I don't want to sound like I don't have a tremendous amount of respect for the Mulleavy sisters, because I do. They're clearly very intelligent, creative, talented, and have profoundly moving aesthetic and philosophical values, and I have definitely found their work inspiring over the years, in many ways.
So let's talk about their most recent Fall 2014 collection. It does make me a bit sad that Cathy Horyn is retiring and isn't here to drag this to hell. I think critical engagement is a form of appreciation, clearly. This is not a new look; these are looks we've seen for the last few years.
These are the looks we've loved from Marc Jacobs, from Celine, from Prada & Miu Miu. Anyone can see that-- I'm no expert, but I see that. It's not an accident. The collection is, as the sisters Mulleavy copped to, about nostalgia. About the things they love. About loving the things you love and being influenced by the things that influence you, and I'm not putting it down because if you're reading this on my personal blog then you know this is what my life is about too.
I guess my issue is that there's a certain amount of shopping, of collecting, going on in the creative imagination here. There's a certain point at which longing for and remembering start to become the same thing. And that kind of waking dream, as any Ambien using sleep-walker can tell you, is a dangerous thing. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore talks a bit about how nostalgia is a way to almost erase the past, by replacing it with a different version of what actually happened. That's one way of thinking about it which I think is interesting. But wait, let's talk about those fucking Star Wars dresses.
This is some Urban Outfitters shit. This is literally selling your childhood memories back to you. I remember Carrie form Sleater-Kinney describing UO that way, or something like that, and she was right. This is a thing of paying exorbitant amounts of money to have an experience you already had, but better, again, this time. Obviously, Star Wars has been an enduring legacy dans le monde du mode. The first thing it makes me thing of is the CdG SHIRT collection from Fall 2012:
I mean, Kawakubo uses things in a different way. But just saying: we all like Star Wars. Maybe "like" is too strong a word; I don't really like it, but a lot of people in my life whom I love very much are obsessed, so I'm down with the Force.
I joked on Twitter that Kim Gordon is probably worried that she's going to have to wear one of the C3PO or Yoda dresses. I'm kidding, of course, she can wear whatever she wants, including this limited edition Net-A-Porter number she wore to the Girls premiere.
One of the things that I think speaks to the success of Rodarte's overall project is that they seem to design for artists, intellectuals, iconoclasts like Kim Gordon, Tilda Swinton, and of course Mx Justin Vivian Bond:
On the note of things I like about them, my favorite collection of their was Spring 2011. I actually really liked all the Opening Ceremony stuff they did, it was closer to my universe. I think their early work was strong-- everything the sisters have done is strong and gorgeous and intriguing.
No homo, but when that collection came out I kind of got, for the first time, that the Mulleavy sisters were actually artists and not just clothing designers.
But there's a point I'm trying to make that I'm either too inarticulate or too biased, too angry and jaded, to make properly. I wish I could link to all of the literature about the label online but you can look it up. It's a weird thing where Wintour is championing it, the right people seem to love it, but you can't actually buy it. It's not for sale in a lot of places, and when it is it's beyond luxury-range expensive. It's a personal project. The Rodarte girl is not the cool downtown girl who works at an art gallery. She's the girl who opens her own gallery with her own money from her family and doesn't have to worry about selling work. She's free, she can do whatever she wants. There's something almost unfair about it. If you didn't know it was Rodarte it wouldn't be Rodarte. That's not new, but we live in such a weird time. I think Fashion, as many of the sagest thinkers (including Wintour and Kawakubo) often say, can tell you a lot about the world, about headlines, about current economic and cultural climes. So I'm not attributing this attitude to Rodarte as a creative force, but more to the discourse they've created and emerged from. Rodarte's rarefied success, connections, insouciance are not, as, say JW Anderson's might be, about asking questions, necessarily. It's seems to be more about a kind of freedom, a kind of in crowd. The label is a labor of love, they don't have to sell a lot of dresses to be part of the conversation. It seems to highlight a blind spot in the rationality of the fashion elite-- that with the right connections anything is possible. With those alone. Think of someone like Alaïa, for example, whom because of personal beef will never be featured in US Vogue.
The world is a tricky and unfair place, and that's not Rodarte's fault and I don't mean for it to sound like that. In fact I think I'm coming around. I would also like to recreate the world in a more beautiful, more personally meaningful way. To be surrounded by the things I already know I love, and imagine the world a place full of such things, remembered, recollected, which could love me back.