Backstage, Kate and Laura Mulleavy gave a very concise précis of their new Rodarte collection: "Los Angeles," they said, and not much more—except for the fact that they saw it as a companion piece to their Fall show, which was inspired by Northern California. That left room for the rest of us to make our own associations. Some saw East L.A.'s chola girls in the plaid silk shirts over shiny bra tops and brocade skirts with studded suspenders. Others had visions of the 1980s hair-metal bands that were born on the Sunset Strip. On the way out the door, we even heard a passing reference to Beverly Hills, 90210. One thing's for sure, the show felt very much an exploration of their own personal fixations. That's nothing new for the Mulleavy sisters; they're archivists of arcana.

And it's nothing new for their audience, either. We've gone down hundreds of memory lanes with designers over the years, and we'll surely see many more references to the 1980s going forward. So we can't fault the Mulleavys for indulging their obsessions.

It's a question of allure. Do women today want to look like this? A few quick clicks through the Nasty Gal shopping site says yes, but what about high-end shoppers? What have the designers done to the denim shorts hiked up above the hips, the deeply fringed miniskirts, and those peaked bra tops to make them new?

Although animal print and tweed jackets with rolled sleeves looked fine enough, we left without an answer. But then, sportswear has never really been their jam. There were a few quirky-cool evening dresses that starlets will want to wear on the red carpet. That's enough to keep the kids in RADARTE T-shirts for another season.