Vogue Forces of Fashion: When Women Take Charge

One of the best panels I attended during the day was the

When Women Take Charge

A conversation with Laura and Kate Mulleavy (Rodarte) and Simone Rocha (Simone Rocha) with moderator Lyn Yaeger

The Mulleavy sisters and Simone Rocha are very different individuals, but all three spearhead the own labels that stand for femininity, strength and an uncompromising dedication to independence. Their views on strength and femininity in a world that eschews that was unbelievable to watch. Lyn Yaeger, of Vogue was a fantastic moderator… bringing up a variety of topics and allowing the woman to voice their opinions so clearly.

Lyn first asked about the concept of “living contradictions”… specifically are woman walking contradictions. SHe described both labels as “ruffly, fluttery, yet tough woman”. She also asked if there is tension between the fairytale clothes we love to look at and the women we want to be - - hard as nails, determined, ones to be reckoned with. Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte) replied… “Because we are women, the universal questions we always get asked is, ‘Do you design for yourself?’ And my answer has always been, ‘No, I’ve actually never designed for myself’. “ She then went on to give one of the best definitions of femininity that I have ever heard. I wish I could have recorded every word! She explained that femininity doesn't have a singular definition. It can mean anything or different things to each woman, throughout various times in the lives and careers. Simone Rocha reinforced this idea, she described her pieces as fortifying stereotypical femininity with a degree of strength and purpose. Simone said to her woman aren’t contradictions, they are a study in contrasts. And she loves the juxtaposition of strength and more traditional femininity.

Both companies are rooted in that they are independent labels. The Mulleavy sisters noted how independence gives them an interesting freedom. Their collections come from an idea that becomes a story, and then a collection. Simone Rocha felt more that her independence in today’s fashion world was a “luxury”. She felt that the larger houses have more resources and access and that leads to amazing product, but that for her staying true to her own aesthetic was most important. The Mulleavy sisters said they don’t read reviews, or desire to be instagrammed. They stay in their own universe and don’t give in to pressures to be trendy, they

DOn’t internalize others thoughts. The only person who truly knows your work is you.

Much of this discussion about independence led to a natural discourse on the current political climate. Simone Rocha felt strongly about Brexit as an Irish designer. She personally designs for anyone, in any stage of life, and love diversity on her shows and campaigns. So to feel as an Irish immigrant no longer wanted within the community was disgusting. She claims the world all feels so accessible and small now, that no one should feel excluded in any community. Kate and Laura felt the change in world politics in a still yet to be caught up equality for women. They voiced a concern for the value and art of women being under-represented and appreciated in the world. They felt getting into design that not everything they wanted to see was being shown. So it was their responsibility to get a voice. They laugh at the commentary that as two women they are rebellious doing this “alone” without a big backer or house behind them. They also remembered some of their earliest work being called “crafty” and that that language would never have been attributed to a man’s work. Never would a man’s art be relegated to such a simplified definition. They are concerned about how if language is not taken seriously it slowly and unconsciously becomes a feeling, and attitude and a stigma.

I already owned some of both of the two companies designs, but now feel an even greater kinship with this lines and can’t wait to see what they continue to produce in the future. I am also DYING to visit the new exhibit in DC about the Rodarte work… I will report back once I do.

EventsBronwyn Newport