Designed by: Rafael de Cárdenas
For client: Rodarte Floor area: 1100.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Exhibition of the Year

Rdcaal Rodarte 1
© Floto+Warner

About the Project

In 2018, RDC/AAL was commissioned to design Rodarte, the first ever fashion exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C, which took place between November 2018 and February 2019.

RDC/AAL placed the label’s designs in exquisite relief while powerfully infusing the museum space with Rodarte’s distinctive elan. The exhibition was spread out across eight galleries, each one a self-contained atmosphere with a distinctive design. The overall space was marked by a stark and subdued tone, with many of the label’s looks displayed on invisible supports against dark walls. This superficially austere setting, which cast the objects on display in sharp relief, bristled with a quiet dynamism. Myriad moments of subtle disorientation were achieved through surprising variations in spatial geometry, materials — with fabrics designed by Rodarte in collaboration with Knoll on prominent display — and more.

Against the exhibition’s hushed backdrop, Rodarte’s iconic looks — including the famous dress from Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, among many others — floated in space among brightly variegated mannequins, disembodied blazes of colored light, and creeping patches of flowers. These points of concentrated color and energy disrupted expectations of a neutral and homogenous gallery space while acting as tightly focussed glosses on Rodarte’s design motifs.

What’s unique about it

RDC/AAL’s design of Rodarte powerfully reconfigured the museum environment and its conventions of display, honing in on the exhibition’s subject to potent effect. The overall design disrupted expectations of a neutral and homogenous gallery space in the process of creating an atmosphere in which Rodarte’s designs were brought into vivid and absorbing focus. Devices such as the invisible supports used throughout called attention to the mechanisms of display by suggesting levitation, while also presenting Rodarte’s pieces in a completely unfettered manner. The polychromatic mannequins, lighting, and flowers, as well as the custom fabrics, had a similar effect, upending anticipated neutrality in order to achieve a pure presentation of the essential “ingredients” of the label’s designs.

Rdcaal Rodarte 2
© Floto+Warner
Rdcaal Rodarte 3
© Floto+Warner
Rdcaal Rodarte 4
© Floto+Warner
Rdcaal Rodarte 5
© Floto+Warner
Rdcaal Rodarte 6
© Floto+Warner
Rdcaal Rodarte 7
© Floto+Warner
Location of project:
Rafael de Cárdenas

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