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Rodarte, But a Movie

“Woodshock,” from the designers of Rodarte, stars Kirsten Dunst in a scary, woodsy dream world.

Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock.
Photo: Woodshock

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Woodshock. What is it?

Judging from the trailer, out this morning, it takes place somewhere foggy and forested (Northern California). It looks kind of scary, but also beautiful. It might be about murder. It might be about the mind. Whatever it is, it’s the first movie made by Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the darkly romantic clothing brand Rodarte, starring Kirsten Dunst, a friend of the Mulleavys who frequently wears Rodarte on the red carpet.

A24, the film’s distributor and the company behind Moonlight, described Woodshock to WWD like this: “Woodshock is a hypnotic exploration of isolation, paranoia, and grief that exists in a dream-world all its own. Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa, a haunted young woman spiraling in the wake of profound loss, torn between her fractured emotional state and the reality-altering effects of a potent cannabinoid drug.”

Does that clear things up? Not really. The movie, it seems, is a lot like Rodarte: aesthetically stunning, beautifully wild, and probably insubstantial.

In a 2016 Washington Post article titled “Does Rodarte actually exist? The vaporous business plan of a fashion industry darling,” fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote, “Rodarte is the work of two wildly imaginative designers who dream up impractical clothes. They have a forceful point of view, but there is slight evidence of their commercial growth... To the extent it exists, Rodarte is a grudging fashion business. The emperor isn’t exactly naked, but he is very scantily attired.”

Rodarte regularly dresses actresses like Brie Larson and Chloë Sevigny for events (not a moneymaking endeavor), and it experienced commercial popularity with its sub-$250 “Radarte” sweatshirts and tees, but it doesn’t seem to move bags, shoes, fragrance, or outerwear in the way that other brands do.

But while Woodshock comes off like Rodarte’s film counterpart — in the same way that Tom Ford’s A Single Man doubled as an extended ad campaign for the designer-turned-filmmaker’s brand — it also flips the script on the narrative that the Mulleavys, who created the ballet costumes for Black Swan, aren’t about profit. There is, we hear, money in entertainment. And just last month, Rodarte teamed up with Coach, which is chasing its own dreams of becoming an American fashion titan, to release a line of very wearable, very available sweaters and handbags.

The Rodarte world may look like a wisp of smoke, but it might be more concrete than we thought.