American fashion brand Rodarte does not make pretty dresses, although their recent Fall/Winter 2018 collection might convince you otherwise. In lieu of New York Fashion Week, Rodarte released a lookbook titled “Portrait Series: Women Who Inspire Us,” featuring fresh faces like Chloe and Halle Bailey, Danai Gurira and Rowan Blanchard, and icons Kirsten Dunst and Kim Gordon posing in theatrical garments that give a nod to silver screen heroines of the 20th century. A hand-painted backdrop of a mystical forest sets the stage for never-ending cascades of scarlet flamenco style ruffles, frothy baby blue tulle, polka dots, velvet butterfly details and pussybow necklines. Accessories play a supporting role as references to the female narrative of decades past: parasols, corsages and lace gloves insinuate the “proper” roles for women in society, exaggerated by an industry notoriously oppressive to women. Rodarte reclaims these symbols and gives their characters dimension and context with a diverse, modern cast of women. Grimes pairs patent red boots with a white Victorian style lace dress buttoned up to her chin, and Ava Phillippe stares defiantly into the camera, dressed in a sugary pink tulle gown adorned with red floral details. Rodarte explores the paradox of beauty and proves there is always more to the story than meets the eye.

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