Rebekka Ruétz’s 2014 A/W collection breathes new life into the myth surrounding Old Hollywood style icons Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. Rather than directly referring to them by name—a point that may or may not be intentional on Ruétz’s part, but would most likely sit well with the glamorous yet notoriously private Dietrich and Garbo—Ruétz draws inspiration from the architectural tradition of art deco in order to recreate the distinct masculine-inspired style of dress favored by Dietrich and Garbo.
Ruétz builds out her collection of long-sleeve blazers, high-collared blouses, trousers and overcoats using bold lines and symmetry, both of which are expressive techniques intrinsic to the art deco tradition. Each line is reinforced by deep shades of black, navy and brown, occasionally accented by gold and white.
The geometric quality of these designs generates a powerful image of the female body, likening her to a monument. Leather cutout vests layered over evening dresses (pictured below) give rise to patterns that bear a striking resemblance to the tower of the Chrysler building—an art deco style skyscraper that has been a prominent component of the New York City skyline since the early 20th century. The decadent beading detail on the vest brings to mind Garbo’s onscreen portrayal of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer who was executed by a firing squad after being accused of spying for the Germans during World War I. Adhering to the body-as-monument paradigm, Garbo’s resurrection of Mata Hari is, at once, a celebration of the latter’s legacy, yet also an acknowledgement of the female body’s fragility when placed at the mercy of patriarchy. Similarly, Ruetz’s vest encapsulates the fragility and strength that characterizes the true condition of the female body.
*Please be advised that the photo at the top of this article was taken by me during the show.