Rodarte Romances the Paris Runway With Baby's Breath and Bows

Rodarte at Paris Couture Week - Getty - H 2017
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

The L.A. designers were invited to show their ready-to-wear collection during Paris Couture Week, where Proenza Schouler also presented on Sunday.

Baby's breath woven into garlands and shrugs, sweet polka dots, edgy leather and pearl details — Rodarte's runway show on Sunday afternoon was a Paris fashion moment if ever there was one.

"The city is like a beautiful dress," Rodarte designer Laura Mulleavy said of the inspiration for her first fashion show in the City of Light. She and sister Kate Mulleavy, who hail from Los Angeles but have been showing in New York City, were invited by the governing body of French fashion, the Chambre Syndicale, to present their spring 2018 ready-to-wear collection as part of Couture Fashion Week.

And rise to the occasion they did, spinning a runway romance in a Left Bank garden setting that was full of red carpet-worthy moments, from floral pants, camisoles and capelets to delicate lace dresses with peek-a-boo details, worn with multiple cuffs up the arms, decorated with even more baby's breath.

The designers kept a bit of the edginess they're also known for — low slung leather pants decorated with pearl piercings, bold buttons and a bow belt, worn with a frothy puff sleeve blouse, for example, and that electric pink, yellow and black feather coat fit for a rock goddess. But overall, the feeling was softer, lighter and more carefree. Even the hair was a vision, dotted with flowers and bows. And the coup de grace? A California red poppy-festooned gown that seemed to be a love letter to home, the Golden State.

"We wanted to stay true to our DNA but honor the history of couture and the houses that show … and push ourselves a bit," said Kate. It’s certainly looking to be Rodarte's year; In addition to dressing half of Hollywood in recent months (Sarah Paulson for the Tonys, Laura Dern for the Oscars, Brie Larson for the Golden Globes), the sisters Mulleavy have also collaborated with Coach on an accessories line and in September will release their first feature film, Woodshock, starring Kirsten Dunst.

New York's Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez also showed their spring 2018 ready-to-wear collection in Paris on Sunday. It was another heady romance of ruffles and corset details, florals and lace.

If the Rodarte collection was West Coast flower child, Proenza's was East Coast organic architectural, with lace, ruffles and cutouts sculpted to the body and playing off the concept of negative space.

The designers continued with themes they've been playing with in their collections for a while, namely off-shoulder silhouettes, cascading ruffles, trailing ribbon details and abstract florals. The long, slit-front skirts looked particularly fresh, as did the fun flared lace pants, peeking out from underneath three-quarter-length coats, some with molded leather bodices. Most modern of all? Every single look was worn with flat shoes, and what covetable shoes they were, edged in ruffles or covered in jingly metal fringe, for the woman who doesn't go quietly. Altogether it didn’t feel as much like a revolution as an evolution, but it was modern and pretty all the same.

In contrast, Guo Pei's collection was much more about the past, in that it was truly couture in the gilded, made-to-measure, Disney princess way. Guo is a Chinese designer who was made famous in the West by Rihanna, when she wore that yellow cape gown that launched a million memes to the 2015 Met Gala. It was the couturier’s fourth time presenting her collection in Paris, and it was a spectacle alright, especially with jewels from a new Chopard capsule collection dripping from the models’ wrists and necks.

From the slow pace of the show to the punishing Lucite platform shoes, this collection was old-school. Think poufs, shoulder embellishments and bell shapes that seemed to defy the ability to sit or even lean. Although there was one blue metallic flared pantsuit that we could see some rock diva wearing — maybe even Celine Dion, who is performing in Paris this week and doing the rounds at shows — much of it seemed more costume than clothes.