Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Afternoon With Rodarte

Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, Photograph by Autumn de Wilde

by Christine Suppes, Editor at Large
April 15, 2010

In the light-filled studio on Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, stillness prevails. Ethereal gowns of floral print chiffon or white tulle pastiche hang ever so gently on racks. Delicate sweaters and skirts are neatly displayed on a long table. Laura and Kate Mulleavy, the brilliant Rodarte team, are quietly controlling the atmosphere, where assistants steadily and silently see to their work, whether answering phones or sewing. Kate and Laura and never without their cell phones, which ring constantly. They speak in calm and confident voices, always softly, always swiftly. I have known the girls for many years and I can see that this collection is special—more so than most because Kate and Laura have really opened up and shown us their inner world, both tribal and couture.

They have just completed the costumes for Natalie Portman’s latest picture ‘The Black Swan” to be released this December. It was hard work, the girls relate, but Natalie wanted Rodarte and no one else. Who can blame her? A picture about a ballerina---what ballerina would not want to wear Rodarte? The girls designed the “pancake” tutus as well as the ballet gowns. And Natalie asked them to design the evening gown she wears in a pivotal scene.

Designing for Hollywood and their New York collection have taken every moment Kate and Laura have. Yet we step out for lunch at their favorite local spot, Bottega Louie, undeniably chic, and undeniably a Rodarte kind of place. Over homemade pizza, fried porcini mushrooms, and fresh raspberries, Kate and Laura can relax for a moment, cell phones still very much in hand. “What will we do for our next collection?” Both shrug as if to say too soon to ask. Who knows, I think as I wave good-bye to my two favorite American designers. They have their CFDA for best women’s wear 2009. Now, how about an Academy Award for best costume design next year? I put nothing past Kate and Laura Mulleavy. They have forgotten more than most designers have ever remembered. Now that is genius.

Runway Images by Marcio Madeira

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