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25-02-2009
  16
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What I like about them is that they show that you don't have to live in a fashion capital in order to create beautiful fashion.

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07-03-2009
  17
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Source | WSJ Magazine March 2009 | By Teri Agins

Quote:
Rodarte’s Soul Sisters... Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sister act design-duo behind Rodarte on their creative world.



Most mornings, Kate and Laura Mulleavy wake up in their parents’ home, kiss their mother goodbye at the door and head out to work. When they get to the Starbucks in downtown Los Angeles, they order the same thing. The sisters then head to their design studio, where they sit across from each other at a wide work table, and when the design process becomes intense, they pull out a thin fabric partition to signal that they shouldn’t be disturbed.

As usual in the rag trade, fame has arrived well ahead of fortune and commercial success for the little house of Rodarte. After eight seasons of collections, the sisters’ label is dining on buzz, which the Mulleavys are counting on to tide them over until their evening-dress business reaches critical mass. There’s industry pressure to turn them into a bankable brand—the sisters were among the designers Gap asked to create limited-edition white shirts in 2007, and last year Vogue approached the pair with a four-month regimen intended to help them, in Vogue’s terms, “learn good habits.” They lost a combined 50 pounds. Despite all the attention, the women are an unwavering and united sister act.

Rodarte’s dresses are a gothy art-school tribute to the couture method. Russian ballerina costumes spiked with a downtown edge, festooned with tissue-thin layers of mussed-up chiffon, embellished with silk tulle and worn with shredded, spiderweb tights and stiletto sandals. Linda Fargo, women’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, remembers an early Rodarte show in September 2006 where the audience fell silent. “It was like ‘run don’t walk’ to get a closer look at these beautiful dresses that were so romantic and original,” she says.

Kate, now 30, and Laura, 28, grew up in the San Francisco area, and later Pasadena, under the wings of intellectual and free-spirited parents, whom they still regard as their best friends. William, their dad, is a former botanist and professor who specialized in fungi. A licensed pilot, he took his daughters flying on the weekends, and his photographs of spores have been the inspiration for certain Rodarte printed fabrics. Rodarte is the maiden name of his wife, Victoria, an artist who made Navajo weavings and taught her daughters to sew.

Bookish and outdoorsy, Kate and Laura were inseparable growing up. In 2001, after graduating with liberal arts degrees from their dad’s alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, they moved back to their parents’ 1940s-style cottage bungalow, and began mapping out their fashion future. They scraped together about $20,000 in seed money: Kate sold off her prized vintage record collection, 25 milk crates full of rare jazz and rock albums dating back to the 1930s; Laura saved her salary and tips from waitressing at a neighborhood restaurant.



In 2004, the pair began Rodarte, working on a big table in the family room at home. “We didn’t know anything about how to price a garment,” Kate remembers. The pair buttressed their own sewing skills with two experienced freelancers, who made patterns and sewed. Within a year, Rodarte made its debut with a collection of 10 intricate dresses that drew instant acclaim from fashion editors and retailers.

Now, Rodarte is in a real studio—a modest, skylit loft in a former Federal Reserve Bank building in downtown Los Angeles. The company gets by with just a few staff—their father does all of Rodarte’s bookkeeping and it’s still the sisters who deal directly with store buyers and celebrity clients, including actress Cate Blanchett and burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. “As long as we are designing, it will always be a partnership,” Laura Mulleavy says. “I feel I couldn’t do it without her.”

Laura Mulleavy

We are very fortunate to have this double thought process; it keeps the creative process exciting. When we are designing, I don’t trust anyone else’s opinion but hers.

Kate wakes up in the morning and is on level 10. She is our arguer, our internal lawyer. She can talk to anyone about anything. She is much better at explaining things to our assistants and staff. She gets mad at me and says I need to talk more, but I am not a good teacher—which is something she is very good at.

I was high school valedictorian, and Kate wrote the speech I delivered at graduation. We are so close that we speak halfway and finish each other’s sentences, and now it seems like we’re doing it even more. Kate and I have the same email address, and we used to have the same cellphone until about a year ago.

Every day we ride into work together, I always do the driving because Kate never learned to drive the freeways. So we are almost always together. But sometimes we have to split up to go to meetings or when she goes ahead of me to New York to prepare for the show. When Kate is in New York, I get a phone call from her every five minutes and it drives me insane. We might as well be together.

Kate Mulleavy

As long as I can remember creating anything, it was always with Laura. I don’t think I could ever be a fashion designer without her.

Once we have our concept for a collection, Laura will say, “This is the silhouette, and this is how it fits.” Laura is very logical and precise. She has a tunnel vision about that, whereas I sometimes get lost and she has to bring me back in. Laura sees the overall story. She is very methodical about design, and some of our most beautiful draping we have done comes from her.

When you have a creative relationship with someone like Laura, you don’t have to go to other people to hear what they think. You have each other. One day you love an idea, and the next day you can’t stand it. There’s a lot of insecurity in designing, and what helps me is that Laura and I can get lost together.

I have always been good at drawing, and I do all the final sketches. Laura does these scribbles, but anything she draws I can understand. I can look at her sketches and translate them. Laura sometimes surprises me with some of the ideas that she has. One season she wanted to do this dress that was like Mount Fuji and I thought she was crazy. But we did that dress, and it ended up being one of my favorites in that collection.

Once we were working on these matted mohair pieces, and it just wasn’t working, and Laura and I were disagreeing and not getting anywhere. We just came back after a few hours and figured it out. Those disagreements are also productive, and you have to have those when you are creating.

We always have the same coffee order: three shots of espresso over ice, and we switch at the same time of the year when the weather gets cold to three shots of espresso in a latte. Sometimes in Pasadena we run into people at the post office or grocery and they always say, “There are the twins.”

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07-03-2009
  18
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^^Thanks so much for posting that!

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Last edited by dior_couture1245; 30-05-2009 at 03:34 PM.
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25-05-2009
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High Fashion
June 2009


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25-05-2009
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I really liked that bit from WSJ Magazine, thanks for that

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25-05-2009
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not sure if this has been posted yet but i had to anyway. it's a gorgeous film collaboration they did as part of nick knight and showtudio's futuretense series. it's title 'vox humana'. reminds me of surreal films from sixties french directors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6vXbFNWJt0


Last edited by Scott; 25-05-2009 at 10:41 PM.
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28-05-2009
  22
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Rodarte has an interview entitled "The New Romantics" in issue #76 of Oyster Magazine that I've been really wanting to scan and share for quite a while now... it is really quite an intriguing and insightful interview.



Scanned by me | Please credit.

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28-05-2009
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnqQaHCYTiU

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28-05-2009
  24
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The minds of Rodarte sisters works like no other designer's. They're truly thinking outside of the box. It's fascinating to hear their thought process.

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29-05-2009
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i love these girls..tavi ( style rookie blog) just had a tour of their studio in LA..and she got a piece from their collection..truly cool stuff!

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31-05-2009
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Does anyone have copies of the Rodarte Numero or New York Times Magazine Articles?

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02-06-2009
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Really bored with absolutely nothing to do ATM. I seem to have a lot of press on the Rodarte sisters and I've been on a scanning frenzy lately... so why not.
From F/W '08 WWD Collections:


Scanned by me | Please credit.

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21-06-2009
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I'm not usually in this forum, but I have some respect for the Rodarte line. Their dresses are very lovely. I'm reminded from Post #12 when I saw "Fashion Police" on E! and Style once with that dress. That was a beautiful dress. I am still learning a little more about the Rodarte line, but I am fond of their work. Perhaps not to the level of Oscar de la Renta (who is my all-time favorite), but getting there.

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10-08-2009
  29
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One of my favourites . Their creations are just breathtaking. Although I have seen very few people pull them off irl. I'm going to go back and read the articles posted above. I would love to get a peek into their creative minds.

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11-08-2009
  30
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kasmslo - thank you for scanning checking them out now.

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