Rodarte’s Striking Flower Hair Sculptures Bring the Wow at New York Fashion Week

You could hear the collective intake of breath as photographers, editors, hairstylists, and makeup artists filed into the multipurpose room on the second floor of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection in the East Village this afternoon.

As a cool, early-fall rain fell outside, seamstresses hand-stitched fresh rosebuds into tulle veils, and Odile Gilbert wove fresh roses into models’ hair for Rodarte’s Spring 2019 show.

Petals from individual buds and garlands strung up by Los Angeles–based floral designer Joseph Free in shades of scarlet, yellow, pale pink, and spray-painted metallics covered the wood floor alongside loose bobby pins as Gilbert’s team worked feverishly. The French hairstylist completed this exercise 48 different times, on 48 different models, finding new ways to blend the flowers with Art Deco–inspired metal crowns and birds, as directed by designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy. Asked when she began the “extravagant” undertaking for the 6:00 p.m. show, Gilbert took a long drag off her e-cigarette before replying. “1:00 p.m.”

“It’s good for New York,” she said of the hair haute couture moment, which gets high marks for imagination and creativity in a city where no-makeup makeup and untouched strands often reign. It was a fitting return for the Mulleavys, who brought their tulle and sequins-encrusted show back to Manhattan after decamping to Paris two seasons ago.

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