If looking good is the best revenge, Rodarte appears to be winning. Months after Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist Robin Givhan asked readers, “Does Rodarte Actually Exist?” and asserted that the brand was not “particularly influential,” the label clapped back through a runway show jammed with potential hits, including studded leather bombers, suede fringe jackets, and some aggressively pretty maxidresses in floaty, sheer fabric. (Elle Fanning, those are for you.)
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Later at the Jane Hotel in Manhattan, the fashion house debuted a new collaboration with Tumblr—a limited-edition version of its “Radarte” tees created especially for the online platform. (Much like the label, the Rodarte x Tumblr T-shirt definitely exists. I’m wearing it right now.)
We spoke with designer Laura Mulleavy about the latest line, the drawbacks of overalls, and how long you can really wear eye shadow….
You told friends this party had an overalls theme. But you’re not wearing them!
I know. And I feel really bad, because I made it an overalls theme. Then I put them on and I was like, “Nope, I can’t dance in overalls.” So I wore this old Cheers T-shirt instead. I hope it’s funny enough that they’ll forgive me.
Cheers was not a reference for your latest collection. What was?
We had three. One was this film called The Spirit of the Beehive. It’s one of my favorite films. And then Janis Joplin. And then bees and pollen, which went together in my mind with the movie.
And why the Tumblr tee?
Our biggest social media platform is Tumblr. I think it’s really conducive to having a lot of imagery in a larger format, which I obviously love. I discovered it through my friend [photographer] Autumn [de Wilde], and I got pretty obsessed with it. The first time we worked with them, we brought some of their artists to our show, and they made their own interpretations. Now we did a shirt with them. And we wanted to because their community is full of artists who are very pure in their intent, and their mission statement is very geared towards creativity and interacting with the world through art. Which is what we do, too. They’re a cool group of people.
Yahoo bought Tumblr for a billion dollars in 2013.
Would you sell Rodarte for a billion dollars?
I mean, I don’t think so! That’s a hard question. That implies that you’d take the billion dollars, but you’d have to work for another person. Which isn’t something I’m sure I could do.
Can we talk for a second about the Washington Post piece?
Sure…. I mean, I think it’s kind of obvious that we exist.
How do you respond to a story like that?
It’s a great question. I think people need to support people that want to remain independent and fight for an independent voice and I think it’s ridiculous that a group of people wouldn’t choose to support that, and would question the intent of it instead. Our sole purpose is to have integrity in what we do, and I think that should be valued.
From Autumn de Wilde to Kirsten Dunst, many of the people you work with are your friends. How do you make sure your artistic vision is happening and still keep the friendship intact?
All our friends are really cool and easygoing. So are we—most of the time. Really value and respect their opinions and what they mean to you, and that means you’re good to go. It’s also good to remain professional.
Last question: In the fashion sphere, you’re known for your fantastic eye makeup. You’ve done the winged liner look since before it was ‘cool.’ What do you use?
You want me to really tell you what it is?
Is it a secret?
No, it’s just funny. The eyeliner, NARS makes a really nice one, and I like one from Revlon that’s a really dark pencil. But the shadow? It’s a Cover Girl eye shadow that is dead stock. They don’t make it any more, and I’ve never found a color that matches it. So when they stopped, I hoarded it.
How long ago did they stop?
[This shadow is] 10 years old. I don’t care! It’s in the refrigerator, and I pretend it doesn’t matter that it’s so old. I use less and less of it, to keep it from diminishing too much. But I can’t give it up. I’ve worn it since I was 13.
Your mom let you wear eye makeup when you were 13?!
I had really big glasses, so I’m not sure my makeup really mattered back then!