What is a California childhood made of? For Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the components look like: board shorts, skater jackets, bodysuits, tie-dye, tattoos and barbed wire crowns.
The sisters mined their Santa Cruz upbringing for a grunge-accented autumn winter 2013 collection. Their New York Fashion Week show opened with a group of black and nude looks that teamed hipbone-flashing bodysuits with elongated board shorts and intentionally too-big coats. Wispy slip dresses with a distressed feel followed.
So far, so Courtney Love. Then on came the tie-dye. Splashed across long, silk satin gowns with foam elements, the casual summer spin-dyes took on a formal, even ceremonial air. One red, black and acid-printed gown with a triangular foam panel on the front looked like a uniform for the high priestess of Burning Man.
‘We were just inspired by Santa Cruz,’ Kate said backstage. ‘It’s hard to distil it because it’s more an interpretation of a memory of a place…. It’s our memories of childhood.’
Kate said they couldn’t have done the collection without barbed wire accessories or tie-dye. The rest of it came down to a Rodarte kind of nostalgia.
‘I think it’s just hard to explain your memory of something,’ Laura added, not unhelpfully.
Their comments amount to a ‘you had to be there to get us’ explanation. But if anyone reading this recalls tattoo jewellery and dancing around a bedroom to Tragic Kingdom and wearing big, wide-legged jeans with tiny triangle tops, guess what: you were totally there. Rodarte received, loud and clear.