1. "The Spring collection ofÔªø Rodarte, featuring undefinable silhouettes,Ôªø bodice hugging mud skirts, and rusted razor belts."
2. "Fashion is full of black, but rarely does it (Rodarte) invent blacks so specific and tactile that you can almost smell them. Sometimes it's like dressing in burns."
The first quote is in fact a spoof-reference to Rodarte in Drew Drooge's Chloe Sevigny impression videos that have had me wanting to eat 'to-ast' and mind my 'manniers' all wekk long (thanks to Anastasia and Duck)
The second is taken from John Kelsey's introductory text that accompanies Rodarte's first monograph in collaboration with photographers Catherine Opie and Alec Soth (I bought it in Artwords and it's on Amazon UK but not Amazon.com yet) I can't deny there are some slightly hilarious parallels between Droege's hammy joke and the lofty poeticism of Kelsey's text. That said, in this instance, with imagery this powerful, if I was writing the foreword, like Kelsey, I probably would also start rapturing about the "space of mutation between dyed tulle" or likening dresses to charred trees. The main point to take away from the text is that Rodarte see a world beyond their dresses which inhabit the body. The link between surroundings and landscape, particularly that of their homestate California and their work has been made apparent time after time and this monograph with the help of Opie and Soth visualises that in a way that is far more moving than a catwalk show. According to Kelsey, "The fashion runway is a desert where design loses its bearings in order to invent a way of walking in and out of dead ends." Mapping, scavenging, cartography, topological – this is the kind of vocabulary that pervades the text as Kelsey sees the Mulleavy sisters as designers that navigate and 'mine' their environment in order to create. For the book, Rodarte provided Soth with a map of California and he goes and does what he does best which is portray both the gravitas and ickle details of a place. Opie was tasked to photograh a mixture of friends, models and strangers in Rodarte's clothing, which is almost eclipsed by the people wearing them. Opie is of course a master at bringing out strengths in her subjects, as though she has known them forever and is a dear friend to them.
The book winds in and out from portrait to landscape, landscape to portrait and works at its best when portriat sits side by side with landscape, where you can really draw direct lines between the flow of Rodarte's chosen materials and the pacing of California's outdoors. By the end of it, I fully concur with Kelsey despite the initial hiccup – "Fashion keeps getting away from itself, losing itself" That's no bad thing either.
Speaking of California, for a few days next week, I'll be out in California for the first time in forever. I'll be most at Huntington Beach watching Nike's US Open of Surfing (all shall be revealed…) but can get away somehow with the help of a driver. I am of course not naturally programmed for California roaming as I don't drive. I won't let that become an impediment though.