American brand of clothing and accessories, Rodarte, was launched in LA by Kate and Laura Mulleavy. The romantic, conceptual design aesthetic and how the sisters see the world though the prism of nature, art, film, poetry, culture and music, caught the discerning eye of almost every editor.
The Mulleavy sisters began designing in their parents’ kitchen in Pasadena, California and in 2002 after leaving college, returned home to create a capsule collection using their savings. The label Rodarte is the original Spanish pronunciation and spelling of their mother’s maiden name, Rodart. Following their capsule collection of seven dresses and two coats, the sisters traveled to New York City and in no time graced the cover of Women’s Wear Daily. This led to a meeting with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who flew to Los Angeles to meet the sisters.
The Mulleavys were on a roll. With an eye for dramatic creations that blurred the line between fashion and art, the duo created costumes for award-winning film, “Black Swan” and several opera productions. In 2007, the fashion brand released limited-edition shirts in collaboration with Gap, and two years later, a limited edition line with Target. The capsules which made headlines, however, was in collaboration with Coach and Cole Haan. Rodarte’s aesthetic has evolved since. Per The New Yorker, the fashion brand was described as “the fashion equivalent of a Basquiat. People in the know really love it, but to everyone else it’s inscrutable or a little bit ugly.”
That said, Rodarte is in the permanent collections of Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2008, the brand was featured in Artforum, making the Mulleavys the only designers to be featured in the publication since Issey Miyake. In May 2011, Rodarte contributed artworks to a project in LA County Museum. That year, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles opened ‘Rodarte: States of Matter’, the first West Coast museum exhibit of Rodarte’s fashion and costume designs. The following year, LA County Museum of Art acquired Rodarte Spring 2012 couture and displayed the collection in its Italian renaissance gallery, alongside renaissance art.
They must be doing something right till date… with their collections continuing to garner critical acclaim. Per Vogue, ”The Mulleavys have the right idea for how to do that for a millennial generation that dreams big and dresses cozy. Let’s see how they balance it all out on their return to the New York runway this fall.” When they’re not designing wearable art, they’re writing and directing a feature film. Starring longtime friend and muse Kirsten Dunst, Woodshock is an artistic exploration of isolation, paranoia and grief set in California’s Humboldt County.
“We want to create collections that are beautiful. Wearability is subjective.”
“To design for anyone to wear, and I think that was all the design inspiration we needed.”
Siblings Katherine “Kate” Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy founded the fashion brand Rodarte in 2005. In addition to their work in fashion, the sisters diversified into film, writing and directing ‘Woodshock’ as well as co-designing costumes in ‘Black Swan’.
Womenswear made applying couture-like craftsmanship to clothes
Kate and Laura Mulleavy have several illustrious awards in their folio including CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer and Stella Swiss Textiles Award in 2008; CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year, United States Artists Grant, and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion in 2009; National Arts Award from Americans for the Arts in 2010; Legend of Fashion Award from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. In 2010, Annual Broadcast Film Critics Awards nominated Kate and Laura for the ballet costumes they designed and produced for Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan. In 2011, their first solo show Rodarte: States of Matter, opened at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and later that year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection, a collection of ten couture gowns. Rodarte is also the first fashion house to be awarded National Art Award from Americans for the Arts in 2010. They have also staged several exhibitions at sites including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and designed for Target.