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"We thought it was a great moment to take things that we did that we believed in and loved and that the women who wear the work loved and always ask for again," said Rodriguez.
As such, he and his team mined each season from spring 1998 to fall 2007, choosing a range of basics that represent his ultraspecific design ethos characterized by precision cuts and architectural minimalism. "It was very democratic," said Rodriguez of the curatorial process. "We all chose the look we liked the best. It wasn't if somebody wore it or if it was the best seller. [The looks] were what we thought were the strongest."
Naturally, the collection represents Rodriguez's affinity for clean lines and exacting details, illustrated with a mix of sportswear, dresses and T-shirts, all done in black with a few white pieces, as in a sleeveless vest and trouser shown with a white shirt and black T-shirt from fall 2001. There's also a body-hugging black halter dress with side cutouts from spring 2003 and sharp pants and boxier three-quarter top from fall 2004.
And though most of the pieces are identical to the original, some updates were in order. "There were a couple of things that needed to be modified slightly, so that it looked a little fresher," said Rodriguez. Still, changes were minor and mainly a matter of tweaking proportions. "It was more in the sense of an armhole or something," said the designer. "We wanted it to work as a collection unto its own and everything related to each other."
While Rodriguez certainly appreciated the nostalgic trip down memory lane the project required, he also saw it as a big step forward. His spring 2008 lineup was hailed by the industry as one of his best, and now the capsule collection marks one of several pushes since Liz Claiborne Inc. took a majority stake in his company last May — a $12 million transaction that gave Rodriguez a much needed cash influx.