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New York Fashion Week: Rodarte goes home

September 14, 2010 |  6:40 pm

Rodartebluepicnic It was like a wilderness escape to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, with wood grain prints, blanket checks and moss-colored lace to transport you. The majesty of the California outdoors is what inspired the terrific Rodarte spring collection designed by L.A.-based Kate and Laura Mulleavy, during their summer spent in Big Sur.

It was undoubtedly their most commercial outing yet. (Gone were the scary spiked shoes, blood red dye spattered dresses and cobweb knits.)

Which is not to say they didn't still spin a good yarn, pulling at the heart strings with the kind of soundtrack you might play on a road trip, or around a campfire (The Doors' "This Is The End" and America's "Ventura Highway").

Check-print skirts and high-waist pants stirred memories of picnics, and wood panel prints brought to mind the paneling on an old family station wagon, as much as the mighty redwoods near where the designers grew up in Northern California. 

Rodartebluejacket But the emphasis was on everyday clothes more than on the fantasy. To that end, there were a lot of good-looking jackets--a blue "Chinese plaid" shirt jacket belted over blue jacquard shorts, for example, and a navy-and-white cotton stripe jacket with the shoulders scooped out, worn atop a pair of pleated, wood panel print silk pants.

The designers' craftsy aesthetic still shone through on a sleek, caramel-colored tooled leather jacket and matching skirt, covetable chunky carved wooden platform heels, belt buckles and barrettes.

And of course, there were still several spectacular dresses -- one in a blue-and-white "Ming vase print" silk, cut out over the stomach, with a tulip-shaped skirt, and another sleeveless style with a paneled skirt, in brown-and-white pony hair.

Rodartegoldmetal I imagine the Mulleavys might have been dreaming of the mythical Diana, goddess of the hunt, when designing a handful of gold evening dresses, one reminiscent of a toga with a draped shoulder and bodice, and another with a warrior look, constructed from metallic leather strips and plates.

Suitable for a red carpet goddess too.

-- Booth Moore

Rodarte spring - summer runway collection photo gallery

Photos: Looks from the Rodarte spring-summer 2011 collection shown at New York Fashion Week. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson & Peter Stigter / For The Times.