News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Rodarte

Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte

Kate and Laura Mulleavy of RodarteKate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the label Rodarte, hit the high fashion world in the spring of 2005 with a collection of just 10 pieces. Those 10 items were enough to secure them in the modern pantheon of designers loved, admired, and sought-after season after season. They didn't just come out with a hit, they came out with an astronomical homerun. What is it about these two sisters that has the most in-the-know fashionistas and Hollywood clamoring to get a piece of the Mulleavys' talent? Innovation, pure and simple.

The design duo are said to work out of a cottage in their parents' backyard, they are so close in their collaboration they openly admit that dating is impossible. While seen here and there during New York Fashion Week and events, they staunchly stick to their California roots. And while their collections have included some of the most delectably feminine (yet edgy) pieces, they're most often publicly seen in jeans and T-shirts. What's more, they're self taught. Both sisters attended Berkley, studying English literature and art history. A truly impressive pairing, these women use their family (Rodarte is their mother's maiden name), their surroundings, and their education as inspiration for what can only be described as a breath of fresh air in the American fashion landscape of recycled designs from decades past.

Their rise to the top was light speed after that first collection in 2005. In each successive year, they have either been nominated or won a prestigious fashion award. Their clothes have appeared on the cover of Vogue more than once, they have delved into costume design with the film Black Swan, and collaborated with Target and Gap for lines of affordable high design. Early detractors voiced concern that their collections were too fantastic, not commercial enough, but the sisters have proved them wrong by creating a fashion house in which their clothes are snapped up tout de suite by celebrities and fashion devotees. While their looks can range from soft pink chiffon creations infused with abstract whimsy to something you imagine a dark fairy wearing in a forest fairytale, they never waver from a commitment to feeling and femininity. Here are some of our favorite recent Rodarte looks. Their spring collection was inspired by the works of Vincent Van Gogh. Sunny hues mixed with rich fabrics and structured silouhettes call to mind a fashion-forward girl's tea party held in a realm of alternate reality.

images: IMAXtree