Though they have really only been in and around the fashion world for the past seven years, Kate and Laura Mulleavy are now known factors, and the recent show of their newest designs at New York Fashion Week was a resounding success that generated much talk.
Rodarte’s fall 2012 collection was as unique as ever. Some of the most notable features were large collars that appear to have replaced the very small collars we saw in 2011. Some of the clues to how great this year’s autumn season will be for fashion were encapsulated in this collection’s black leather dresses, lacy collars and leather belts wrapped around waists. Among the front-row audience members was film star Natalie Portman; it should be noted that it was the Mulleavy sisters who designed the costumes for the film Black Swan, for which Portman won the Best Actress Oscar last year. The film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, really brought the names of the Mulleavy sisters into the worldwide spotlight.
Interestingly, the Mulleavy sisters use their mother’s maiden name and began their fashion journey in 2005 using this name. Though they had always considered becoming fashion designers, Kate wound up studying art history, and Laura studied English literature. When they realized, just as they were about to graduate from university, that they really wanted to become fashion designers, they moved back to Los Angeles immediately upon graduating. They knew what they wanted to do career-wise, but they were not quite sure where and how to start....
As Kate herself has noted, the only thing they were really capable of doing at that point was watching horror films over and over.
The only real funds the two sisters had at this point were savings from Kate’s work during university as a waitress, supplemented by the sale of Laura’s record collection. They did, however, go forward and design a few pieces -- some dresses and a few jackets -- mostly inspired by films they had watched and the atmosphere they had grown up in, and they set out for New York. Their first collection was composed of just 10 pieces, and they displayed these pieces on paper mannequins in a hotel room as they did not have enough money to do it any other way.
The results though, in the end, were way beyond their expectations! First the well-known trade journal Women’s Wear Daily and then the rest of the fashion world began to notice them. They were being talked about everywhere. Fashion editors across the board were talking about how exciting Rodarte’s designs were. A year had not even passed when they were given an award by the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation. After that, the awards began to flow in.
Not in firm sway of fashion
The strange part of this success story is that the Mulleavy sisters did nothing in the way of promotional campaigns for their clothing. What really made them stand out, though, was their very unique designs, which appeared not to be tied to any fashion perspective. That, and of course the extreme attention to detail and the extraordinary romanticism of their pieces. Laura herself has explained that she didn’t find their designs so incredibly unique when they first started, but she now sees how special they are. Still, this label does not try to impose any particular look on the women who wear it. And the two sisters say that all they really try to do is reflect things they find beautiful onto the clothing they design.
Michelle Obama also wears Rodarte
Some of Rodarte’s biggest fans include, as mentioned above, film star Natalie Portman, as well as Kirsten Dunst. Other actresses like Cate Blanchett, Keira Knightley, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Anne Hathaway can often be seen in Rodarte clothing. Notably, First Lady of the US Michelle Obama also wore a Rodarte design when hosting the Jordanian queen in 2009.