Tag Archives: Rodarte

I get a lot of referrals from Google of people looking for how to make a Black Swan costume.. so here is my attempt to answer that query and help you on your way to making a killer Black Swan costume this Halloween. (*I will try and do an update with some photos of my actual costume around Halloween.)

You will need:

  • Black tank top (to keep costs down) or Bustier or corset (if you want to be really accurate.)
  • Clear and/or black plastic rhinestones
  • Black feathers
  • Black tulle or a tutu
  • White or pale pink opaque tights
  • Ballet flats or ballet shoes (if you have access to real shoes)
  • Tiara
  • Black Paint
  • Makeup – white foundation, black and silver eyeliner/shadow, red lip
  • Glue Gun
  • Needle & Thread (or Sewing Machine, for the tutu)

I’m going to provide some detail on how to make this costume as bottom-line-cheaply as possible. Basically if you have the money to upgrade on any item or part of the costume, feel free. My goal is to get you looking Black-Swan-Fabulous for as little as possible.


the dress

The dress is the most costly and difficult part of your costume. The main two parts you need to take care of are the bodice and the skirt or tutu. If you can afford to buy a real black tutu, it will stand out and be very stiff and straight, just like in the movie. You can also purchase black tulle from a fabric store to make this yourself, but it will likely be a bit more ‘skirty’ and less rigid than a traditional tutu which has all kinds of structure built into it.The easiest thing to make your own is to layer the tulle and sew it along a LONG black ribbon that you can then wrap around your waist and tie – one size fits all!

For the bodice, you can use a black tank top to save on costs ($5 at Walmart and then just cut off one strap – just be sure to wear a strapless bra underneath!) You can get rhinestones, black feathers and other glittery bits and bobs from a Dollar Store for just a few dollars. Armed with a glue gun and some attention to the photo, you can easily make your 5.00 tank top (or nicer corset if you can afford it) look as haphazardly gorgeous as the photo above. The rule of thumb is to place the larger decorative elements first so start with the feathers and then work your way up to the rhinestones. Pay attention to the asymmetry of the bodice – the feathers on the upper right side but not on the left give the costume part of its interesting “weirdness.”


You can purchase a cute plastic, rhinestone covered tiara at any dollar store in the girls/princess section of the toy section.. now your task it to make it look dark and gothic. You can do this by painting over the entire thing (rhinestones and all) with black acrylic paint (which can also be found at the dollar store.) Then you can just take an SOS pad and scratch the paint away from the rhinestones to reveal the shine and glitter underneath. It will look sort of like the rhinestones are excavated from beneath the blackness, very gothic. And only $2-3 dollars to make!


A nice close up of the Black Swan Makeup.

The makeup basically consists of an overall white foundation and deep black and silver eyeliner to create those wing-like shapes around the eyes. Some deep red lipstick and a pair of red contacts will take it even further, but if you have the white skin and dark eye makeup along with your costume, there will be no doubt which ‘swan’ you are.


Depending on how much attention you want to pay to detail, you can also paint your hands with black and silver lines, a la Natalie Portman in the scene where she becomes the bird. You could also do a slight nod to another scene in the film by pasting a little bit of feather to your bare shoulder blade surrounded by blood and red ‘irritated’ skin. A pair of pink tights and nude or pink ballet flats will keep you comfy all night long.



Yay! Another Season of Rodarte to salivate over….

This time around the sisters seem to be having a ‘Van Gogh’ moment. Many of the dresses use patterns that evoke or include images of his famous works Sunflowers and Starry Night. Both are deliciously full of everything Rodarte is about – gothic-romanticism, texture and color. There are a few out there pieces that don’t seem to fit the overall story, like the purple and lime green pieces, but there’s definitely some gorgeous gowns in here to covet.


Starry Night

Spring 2011

Oh lord. Hideous rears its (ugly) head again.

Spring 2011
Strong, structured pieces dominate this collection, which is something of a departure from the usual Rodarte aesthetic. Many of the other elements are there – a certain ‘girly-goth’ to the styling; an eclectic mix of fabrics, shapes, patterns and silhouettes; crazy shoes. Crazy. Shoes. With this collection I feel a more refined Rodarte emerging, without feeling a loss of their edginess. Their signature disheveled, layered looks have morphed into a cleaner, more polished layering that is graphic and precise, rather than random. The choice of wood paneling as a fabric pattern yields an astonishing array of color and texture, especially paired with the clean, graphic shapes, The injection of color in the blue ming vase pattern (the dress even looks like a vase) is a delightful contrast to the browns and golds.

Fall 2011

Fall 2011 WTF pieces.

Fall 2011
At once modern and old-fashioned, this collection is an exercise in contrast. I can’t say I particularly LIKE most of the pieces in this collection – I find many of the looks to be unflattering even on the models wearing them, which bodes poorly for us regular folk, The Little House on the Prairie looks are, unlike the Spring collection, presented without irony. The cut of some of the long coats are a bit more modern and interesting, but for the most part look like costumes. The triangle motif on or around the chest, repeated throughout the collection is clumsy and in many instances feels forced. I simply don’t get the pyjama-jumpsuit thingys. The red seems to come out of nowhere, as do the drapey evening gowns, which aren’t cohesive with the rest of the collection. I think I understand where they are going with this aesthetic but I’m just not finding it as interesting or inspirational as some of their other collections.

Srping 2010

More Spring 2010 - Also, one of the best 'Rodarte' models out there.

Spring 2010
Despite this being a spring collection, the tone is very dark and gothic, and is a clear evolution from their Fall 09. Straps, leather, biker mini dresses and the deconstruction that is their signature regardless of the materials. The idea that someone could “be scarred and still beautiful” was the collection’s leitmotif and I think they fully achieved their goal. Their inspiration was a marriage of primitivism with modernism and inspired by the desert and a post-apocalyptic heroine. Rodarte’s themes are always intriguing, if a little complex – which is reflected in their designs.

Fall 2010

And... when it doesn't work, its pretty hideous.

Fall 2010
Gothic Prairie Girl comes to mind when looking at this collection as a whole. Here, the Mulleavy sisters seem to be stretching themselves and it is very exciting. With no black in sight, the color palette seems to have matured away from the more obvious ‘gothic’ to a more unique interpretation. Muted nudes, white, prints(!), crocheting, lace and that wine color work together to give us something really fresh and yet totally Rodarte. Although I saw some truly hideous pieces in this collection, I also some incredible gems.Their layering and combination of elements, when it works, is unparalleled.

Spring 2009

Spring 2009
Nude, black, Blue, orange and purple. I feel like I can see them riffing off the shoes again here – injecting a little more punk attitude into the mix with the chain, the leather, the little biker gloves and motorcycle-esque jackets. The tights are fab and an obvious evolution of that punk aesthetic. They can’t stay away from drapey and flowy, nor can they resist the urge to use sheers and deconstructed knitwear.

Fall 2009

Fall 2009
In this collection they fully stepped away from the flowy, romantic gowns and girly dresses of the past few seasons. The predominant theme is of deconstructed futurism. The mini dresses frequently look like armour or battle-gear, including the leather jackets and the leather boots/leggings. Even the knitted work suggests epaulets and a military inspiration. Color comes back in vibrant greens and electric blue metallics.

More Fall 2009

Forgot to mention this sooner, but here are the links for Rodarte’s official site and New York Fashion, which is where I get all my images from. You can see the complete collections at either of these sites.

Spring 2008

Spring 2008
A muted palette of white, black, navy blue and pastels in blues, peaches and lilac. A glimpse of their signature deconstructed knitwear and wicked studded shoes. Details like floppy hats, metallics, pleating and sheer layers keep the collection cohesive. Somewhat subdued overall, considering what follows.

Fall 2008

Fall 2008
A similar palette with an infusion of red, I distinctly remember seeing pieces from this collection in nearly every fashion magazine I picked up at the time. The deconstructed knitwear really shines and is expanded to their spider-web-like tights. (so coveted!) The studded shoe designs are refined and even the sheer, flowy, draped evening gowns seem more polished. You can see the influence of the voluminous skirts from the spring has also transformed away from the pleating and is capturing a dreamier romanticism. A lot of great pieces in this collection.

More Fall 2008

Spring 2007

Spring 2007
This collection is a perfect indicator of things to come from the Mulleavy sisters. It is also batshit crazy. I found this one particularly hard to critique because most of it was so bizarre that I couldn’t imagine someone wearing most of it, much less someone designing it and saying to themselves “yeah, that looks good.” Most of the dresses are shapeless sacks and the volume is neither flattering nor particularly interesting. Some of the tailored stuff is interesting but the flowers on nearly every piece get a little overdone. The netting? – I don’t even know…


But this is part of what I love about Rodarte. Their collections are so memorable and weird that you can’t help but appreciate the work and talent going into these clothes, even if you’d never wear them.

More Spring 07

Fall 2007
Here’s where things really start getting interesting (at least for me). The eclecticism is starting to show here and so is their unique brand of ‘goth romantic girl’ which is a recurring theme. The layering, the texture, the combination of fabrics, and the drapery are all part of their recipe. Here, that recipe is starting to bear really interesting results and as they refine their methods, we will see more and more success in this ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ Rodarte way of doing things.

Fall 2007

Another from Fall 07