A famous quote, "It was a dark and stormy night," lingered through the atmosphere to shape the gothic mood of the Rodarte Fall 2020 show. After taking a couple of seasons away from New York Fashion Week in favor of a show in LA and a star-studded lookbook, designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy gathered show guests in the candlelit nave of St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue, which perfectly set the scene for the dark romance that ensued. It was a welcome return, and the duo used their famed storytelling abilities not only to deliver the latest in their signature ethereal beauty but to show an added dimension to their sensibilities that instantly became the talk of the town.
Any fan or observer of the brand could no doubt pinpoint the signature hallmarks of a Rodarte girl: flowers in her hair, polka-dot dresses, and pearl accents everywhere. And while this collection didn't stray from the familiar altogether, the Mulleavy sisters' ability to embrace a theme transported audience members straight to a 17th-century Romanian chateau. The co-designers made a direct reference to the classic film Dracula (1992) by weaving spooky themes all throughout the collection: sparkling spider webs, dark violet lips, black fringe, and oversized, witchy hoods attached to blazers all added a sinister but sweet touch.
Coinciding with their deep dive into gothic romance, the Mulleavys did all but abandon their classic aesthetic. Instead, the exploration into all things dark was used as an added layer to accompany their sweet, overwhelmingly beautiful pieces that have come to define Rodarte. Think oversized, wide collars, thousands of beads and appliquéd florals, and tiered ruffles for days.
The finale? A silk floral print dress with a 20-foot train, creating a bridal aesthetic that felt historical and unapologetically modern all at once. Complete with a back bow, dramatic floral headpiece and attached veil, and a dark lip, the closing look gave an ambiguous ending to the show's narrative, leaving spectators wondering: "Is she truly as innocent and sweet as she seems?" Perhaps we will never find out.
See all the looks from the Rodarte Fall 2020 collection in the gallery below.