February 12, 2008 London
Of course, any criticismeither of performance or clotheshad been preempted by Colbert's declaration that "amateur is not a dirty word." And yet it was confounding to see how far the Rodnik twosome have taken their self-mythologizing gall. Their facesas interpreted by the artist Hugo Guinnessmade up a boldly graphic print with the parasols and top hats that have been personal style signatures. The same faces adorned all the buttons (even the tiny red ones hidden in the cuffed three-quarter sleeve of a black dress).
After parting company with their design staff, Ascott and Colbert took a hands-on approach with this collection. Given that neither has a jot of formal design training, it was wise of them to stick to the simplest silhouettes: a T-shirt dress, a shift, a jacket dress with a slightly dropped waist. A collaboration with famed bespoke shirtmaker Emma Willis yielded a tuxedo-fronted, French-cuffed little black dress (though its synthetic hand somewhat undercut the item's visual appeal). That's the kind of strategic alliance that has characterized Rodnik's rise. Will it last? Well, they claim to value chic as much as amateurism, which means that at some point they'll surely have to test their rock band/brand in a more demanding arena.