PRINT April 2010



View of “Quicktake: Rodarte,” 2010, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York. Photo: Carmel Wilson.

THE HALLUCINATION that haunts an America in ruins is as mythic as ever: From these singed, frayed, distressed fragments, something emerges again, if not in life then as a sort of glamorous undeath, at least for a season. For the fashion-design team Rodarte, devastation always precedes construction. Informed by the postinferno landscapes of Southern California and the dilapidated, foreclosed properties along the 110 freeway connecting LA to Pasadena, by echoes of the Dust Bowl and the horror films they won’t stop watching, Kate and Laura Mulleavy are drawn to the ruins of the present, or to the present as ruin. This past winter at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, on the former Carnegie mansion’s second-floor landing and in what is still referred to as the Billiard Room, seventeen gray mannequins displayed samples from Rodarte’s previous four fashion seasons,

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