A Decade Since Scandal, Yalitza Models Rodarte
Fashion month kicked off in New York this week to its usual fanfare. American designers such as Ralph Lauren, Ulla Johnson and Christian Siriano presented in classical runway format, while the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte published a star-studded lookbook from Hollywood.
The Southern Californian sisters, known for expertly spinning gossamer into gowns, debuted in 2005 to immediate darling-dom without any formal training. Just a large crop of famous friends. After proving their stronghold on the emo-dream-girl market, they were approached by M·A·C to collaborate on a makeup collection in 2010.
At the time Kate and Laura had become fascinated with Juarez, a border town known for its maquilas, Mexico’s tariff-free factories. The designers shared that when creating F/W ready-to-wear they had been inspired by the lines of women workers who’d make their way to factory jobs in the middle of the night. Their grim “inspiration” poured into their project with M·A·C, producing a variety of cosmetics in tone-deaf shades of “factory,” “Juarez,” “Ghost town,” “del Norte,” and “quinceañera.”
Outrage ensued with both Rodarte and M·A·C issuing apologies. M·A·C also pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from the M·A·C Rodarte collection to help those in need in Juarez. Rodarte claimed “…the M·A·C collaboration was intended as a celebration of the beauty of the landscape and people in the areas that we traveled.”
But what they apparently gleaned from their roadtrip alongside the border was a romanticized version of the walking dead, which indicated they were not oblivious to the devastating circumstances factory workers face. Their decision to market the plight of poverty was harmful and grotesque.
Nearly a decade later much has changed at the label and the reigning Mexican queen of cinema, Yalitza Aparicio, stunned in this season’s lookbook. Does this mark redemption for Rodarte or is this simply a response to the cultural imperative for inclusion?
While we see more diverse visuals in fashion those at the helm remain from one dominant perspective. Beacons such as LVMH’s first African-American designer, Virgil Abloh, Edward Enninful, the first African-American Editor-in-Chief at Vogue UK and Elaine Welteroth, the first African-American and the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history (formerly at Teen Vogue), offer true signs of change. More of this please!