Nights In Rodarte: Dreams And Nightmares


by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

Welcome back, Real Housewives of Orange County!  I’ll be damned if every single season you don’t look more like a bunch of high-class prostitutes.  It seems that there’s only one place to shop behind the Orange Curtain and it only stocks jersey frocks with spaghetti straps and plunging necklines.  Fashion is about making choices, girls, not about dressing like you’re all bridesmaids at the same Cabo San Lucas destination wedding.

The Electric Plastic Frosted un-Real Housewives of OC voguing jersey knit realness.

I don’t get down to Orange County very often, actually never, but I’ve been assured by those who do that it’s very conservative, rather suburban and that the women who live there actually do sport fake blonde hair, fake tans, fake lips and fake boobs just like the Real Housewives cast.  It seems like they’re trying to replace the real beauty that comes from a woman embracing and expressing who she is with some kind of bland, plastic imitation.  To put it into perspective, this is coming from someone who lives in L.A.  Ouch.

One sunny afternoon a while back, a couple of lovely O.C. ladies rushed into my Beverly Hills workplace as though they were trying to escape something.  Maybe there was a brunette out there!  “Is there anything I can help you with?” I inquired, ending incorrectly with a prepositional phrase.

“Well, we’re from Orange County,” replied the, I think, elder of the two.  I believe they were a mother and daughter but they may have been sisters or even just friends with the same hairdresser and plastic surgeon.  The fake hair, tan, lips and boobs can throw you off a bit.  “There’s a homeless guy out there,” she whined, “and he’s following us.  We’re from Orange County!”

“Yeah, we’re from Orange County,” added the possibly younger one.  Between them, they must have repeated that they were from Orange County ten times.

“I’m sure everything will be fine,” I assured her, as my inner dialogue went something more like, “This is Beverly Hills, you silly Republican bimbo.  It’s not like you and your stupid daughter/sister/friend are roaming the crime-ridden streets of some Third World ghetto!”

Just as I was about to tell them not to worry, it’s probably just Val Kilmer, I glanced outside and saw a silly Republican bimbo’s worst nightmare.  The black six-foot-four winner of the Beverly Hills Most Likely to be Dangerous Homeless Man Award was rubbing his hands together and hopping up and down in anticipation.  “I got some purdy ladies in there!” he proclaimed in a booming voice.  Okay, so maybe I was wrong about the homeless guy, but it doesn’t excuse those hair extensions.

The better Rodarte Fall 2011

Now that you know that I’m not a big fan of O.C. conformity, I’ll also fill you in on the fact that just because something is considered Fashion doesn’t guarantee I’m going to like it, either.

In preparation for today’s visit to the Rodarte exhibit at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center satellite, I once again pulled up the video of their Spring 2011 show.  I’m all for supporting local talent like Rodarte designers, Pasadena-based Kate and Laura Mulleavy, but I just hated that show.  The collection, inspired by the sisters’ time in Northern California and seventies suburbia, featured dresses and jackets with silly cutout shoulders, the shiny gold Cleopatra shtick went on forever and the music was a depressing playlist of Jimmy Buffett and America.  Worst of all, the beautiful models—who, by the way, fucking walk for a living—had to literally hobble around in those ridiculous ankle boot contraptions.  They looked like retarded storks.  Runway sadness.

In happy contrast, the recent show for Fall 2011 was incredible.  A Victoria’s Secret angel must have stepped in, waved her magic wand and said, in Heidi Klum’s Teutonic lilt, “Zese girls must be beautiful!  Zey must walk like if zey are gliding!  Zey must wear amazing clothes and have hair zat doesn’t look like a Marsha Bwady dwag queen!”  From the first exit, I was seriously impressed.  The Little Girl on the Prairie was interpreted in an unexpectedly soft, floating way.  The pale camel colors and pops of baby blue were unexpected.  The fullness of the skirts was unexpected.  The whole spectacle was unexpected and, more to the point, it was beautiful.  That’s what fashion should be about, really; reinterpreting things in new ways with beautiful results.  I suppose fashion is like pornography: you know it when you see it.

The first Black Swan room of the Rodarte "case study" at MOCA PDC.

Well, it turns out that the exhibit entitled Rodarte: States of Matter doesn’t include anything from the last two collections.  Oh, great.  But the exhibit is done beautifully.  The first small room is black and dimly lit.  A couple of black, feather adorned tutus created for the film Black Swan twirl slowly, suspended amongst a selection of black gowns from Rodarte’s Spring 2010 collection.  The gowns were a little too Beyond Thunderdome for me but they complemented the exquisitely crafted ballet costumes nicely.  Up the stoic concrete stairs into much larger space, one is greeted by three groupings.  First, a rather pretty selection of white gowns with layers of lace and strings of (presumably) faux pearls plays well off a couple of lovely white tutus from the film, in a group to the right.  The final and most intriguing vignette includes the final Black Swan tutu and two red and white chiffon frocks from the Fall 2008 collection lit in varying, eerie blasts of red light from the tubes heaped on the floor beneath.  The presentation as a whole was refreshingly modern and minimal and represented the Rodarte fashion meets costume design concept perfectly.  It’s at MOCA Pacific Design Center until June 5, 2011.

The upstairs Rodarte White Swan room, with just a dash of bloody ballerina red.

On a different note, I’d like to pay tribute to my client and friend, late Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who passed away on Friday.  Though Al Gore said that Mr. Christopher “made the promotion of human rights around the globe American policy,” it’s his perfectly tailored suits and his innate kindness that I will remember.  He wasn’t fashionable in the modern sense, but he had the most amazing style and that’s always more important, isn’t it?

In closing, don’t part your hair down the middle unless your name is Alfalfa.

Much love,


Comments: 20

  • Veronica March 30, 20118:29 pm

    LOVE IT!!!

  • Cynthia Hirsh March 30, 20118:30 pm

    I agree, those women on Housewives of the OC are the epitomy of Tacky. Forget the tans, blonde extensions and loud mouthes, how about all the plastic in their faces. ICK. I can’t watch those shows, tacky is not the way I live and am uncomfortable watching it. Love you James and look forward to more posts.

    • James Tuttle March 31, 20119:30 am

      Those Housewives franchises are pretty insane, especially in how they illustrate what women think is their best look. It varies so widely from O.C. to Atlanta to New York, at least in the context of these shows.
      Thanks for the support!

  • robert john taylor March 30, 20119:22 pm

    nice work james thanks for being a friend on facebook threw message.Very proud of u too.Ur fan,friend,robert john taylor

    • James Tuttle March 31, 20119:31 am

      RJT! I’m glad you are liking the blog and thank you for all your support. I really appreciate it.

  • Rose Cepero March 30, 20119:24 pm

    Yes I agree, housewives of OC are in their own World!! I guess looking outlandish is their style. Class is where its At!!! Love You James XO

    • James Tuttle March 31, 20119:32 am

      Aren’t they? I haven’t even got into the East Coast ones… yet! Thanks for reading, Rosie!

  • Angela March 31, 20114:52 am

    Wonderful, I could read your words all day Mr. Looks like we do get Real Housewives over here in the UK (new series tonight). I will have to take a small peek now after reading this. Angela x

  • James Tuttle March 31, 20119:33 am

    Oh, now I’m advertising for Real Housewives! For free! haha. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog, Angela. Thank you!

  • Patricia March 31, 20119:41 am

    Great Article

    • James Tuttle March 31, 201112:22 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

  • oldancestor March 31, 201110:10 am

    When I read the opening of this story, I thought, “Hey, I’m no housewife from Orange County! You aren’t talking to me.”

    Then you said I look like a high-class prostitute, and I thought, “Oh. He is.”

    • James Killough March 31, 201110:42 am

      Funny, funny man.

      • James Tuttle March 31, 201112:24 pm

        Very funny. And could you lay off the spray tan?

      • oldancestor March 31, 20116:42 pm

        But the smell of tanning spray… mmmmmmmmmmmm. I just shoot it straight into my nose these days.

  • Stacie March 31, 20113:47 pm

    Another great article….I love your take on the fashion world. It’s a very amusing commentary….keep up the good work….I’m a fan.

    • James Tuttle March 31, 201110:41 pm

      I’ll keep calling it like I see it. Thanks so much!

  • alison foster April 1, 201111:57 pm

    James! amazing insight:)

  • James Tuttle April 2, 20118:24 am

    Thanks for joining us, Alison! I’ll be back with more next week.

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