Musings On Rodarte

I have certain issues with the Rodarte sisters. Issues born from their “Mexico inspired” collaboration with MAC featuring ghostly nail polish and blood-streaked eyeshadow inappropriately titled “Juarez” to their blatant self-promotion of Black Swan that discredited the work of other costumers involved in the project. However, I still really enjoy their clothing designs. So the question is: are allowances appropriate to make for creative geniuses?
I often find that we do make allowances for brilliant people or artists, perhaps because their contributions to society are supposedly greater than their faults or because their personal lives shouldn’t be a factor when we judge their work. Still, I find it puzzling that girls who participate in Slutwalks to reclaim the term slut and stand by sexual assault victims who have been told that their attacks were their fault, enjoy and support films by Roman Polanski (who was convicted of statutory rape but fled the country to avoid imprisonment). Another example (from the fashion world): John Galliano’s anti-Semantic rant in a Parisian cafe nearly a year ago. Of course, for every example we have there are dozens of untold stories—if John Galliano had never opened his mouth, he’d still be designing for Dior. Further, both of these examples are of personal lives/beliefs; if they don’t behave like that in their work-space can we separate their work lives from their personal lives? Besides, who among us is blameless and innocent; we all make mistakes, we’re hardly ever in a position to judge.
Of course, one difference between Galliano and Rodarte is: John Galliano has been ousted by the fashion community, sentenced by the French government for his crime, and generally made to suffer for his racist rant. The Mulleavy sisters continue to collaborate with MAC, receive credit for the costume design of Black Swan, and generally remain darlings of the fashion community. My issues with Rodarte stem not from their personal lives, but is directly related to their work. As of now, I enjoy the designs of Rodarte, but I feel uncomfortable posting on them (although I still do on occasion). How can I support through verbal or written affirmation their designs when I wonder about their principles and continued collaborations?

Yet one final worry that arises for me is, why do we make these allowances for supposed geniuses of the arts or science when we wouldn’t make them for an “ordinary” individual with a more common occupation? What makes the artist an exception to basic rules of morality? Are they somehow above the rest of us?
So, I’m really just wondering aloud where do we draw the line—when do we stop making exceptions for “creative genius” and why do we do it to begin with? I certainly don’t have an answer.


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