Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind Rodarte, traveled back to their youth for their fall/winter 2013–2014 collection, specifically Santa Cruz, the Northern California coastal city where the two grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The neon lights propped vertically on cinder blocks that lined the catwalk referenced the Big Dipper, the 88-year-old wooden roller coaster that stands on the city’s beach boardwalk.
Those in the know are aware that Santa Cruz is anything but high fashion, but the Mulleavys beautifully elevated some of the signature markings of the free-spirited city into a runway collection all their own. The show started with heavy dark layered looks before giving way to several pieces, including a nude embroidered dress with silk chiffon ruffles, that conjured up the patterns left in the sand by rolling waves. Bare hips abound, thanks to several revealing bodysuits and dresses. Angel wings and a white silk chiffon dress that moved fluidly down the runway gave the collection an ethereal feel. And then came the tie-dye, an element synonymous with Santa Cruz’s Northern California hippie vibe. It appeared on a satin bodysuit and daring floor-length gowns accented with angular foam bibs and shoulders, before another mark of the Mulleavy’s younger days surfaced: acid wash denim. They used the print on silk in the form of shorts, skirts, and dresses. The Mulleavys certainly have a knack for transforming the unexpected into artful runway collections with their imaginations, and they managed to do it again with this one.
After odes to the California condor, the Golden State’s redwoods, Death Valley, and the Griffith Observatory — it’s evident that the sisters Mulleavy love their home state.