Rodarte — we can't say the name without having images of fashion-forward dresses float before our eyes. Designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy have taken the concept of a gown and turned it upside down, in the best way possible. Their designs manage to be both ethereal and completely funky — not to mention the fact that celebs eat them up! The sisters have even dabbled in the movie industry, creating the Black Swan costumes, which were inspired by Edgar Degas's "Little Dancer" statue. Since Fall of 2006, Rodarte's ready-to-wear has gotten more and more sophisticated and elaborate. Click through to see their runway retrospective.
As a brand, Rodarte has tied itself to some fairly experimental film projects (Black Swan, the short where Elle Fanning gets absorbed into a ball of light, what have you), but the latest video might just be the most pleasantly and eerily weird thing we've seen all Summer.
The 13-minute short, called This Must Be The Only Fantasy, was created in collaboration with The Creators Project and directed by photographer Todd Cole. In it, a young woman, played by model Sidney Williams, goes on a journey to find a man who should be playing board games with her and a group of mutual friends, and along the way she encounters a threatening horseman, a unicorn, and a fairy godmother played by model Guinevere van Seenus.
To put it mildly, there are layers to this film. Below, take a look at the video and tell us if you experienced the same wide range of emotions we did when Elijah Wood pops up on the screen.
If you think you see allusions to Game of Thrones in Rodarte's well-armored Spring 2013 collection, think again: Laura Mulleavy claimed backstage Tuesday that she's never seen the HBO costume drama.
Whether the same can be said of her sister Kate is uncertain, but what we do know is that this collection drew inspiration from a rich store of references including medieval garb, fantasy role-playing games, and motorcycles. If nods to the Hells Angels (leather jackets with ropes of fringe) seem out of place with the other touchpoints in this collection, it was the Mulleavys' signature layered decoration that blended them all together.
Second-skin printed turtleneck sweaters, for example, were made battle ready with the addition of matelasse bodices and breastplates made from origami-folded brocades. A skirt made from open square panels of a metallic fiber made for a modern take on chain mail — and there were actual chains used in a number of decorative belts.
The looks that were more damsel in distress than knight in shining armor were just as fantastical, but with less edge. A stunning blue gown with a high neckline and short sleeves featured a bodice of latticed metal pieces that looked like a luxury chastity belt.
Leave it to Kate and Laura Mulleavy to not only draw a star-studded front row — hello, George Lucas, Natalie Portman, and Dakota Fanning — but to deliver a stellar, 1940s-inspired Fall '12 collection too. One part cave-drawing-infused, one part retro femme, and one part Australian outback-reminiscent, Rodarte showcased a beautiful mix of totally girlie pieces with both red-carpet appeal and wearable ladylike style. The sister duo paid close attention to feminine details á la Peter Pan collars, artfully structured ruffles, and metal star appliqué hair combs. Yet, never ones to shy away from throwing some quirk into the picture, they added literal hand prints to long, flowy evening gowns and added cowboy buckles to double-strap leather belts. The biggest covet-worthy takeaway from today's show? After several seasons of collaborating with key shoe designers like Nicholas Kirkwood and Christian Louboutin, the Mulleavy sisters debuted their first-ever in-house shoe collection. We're calling it: Rodarte's two-tone pumps with heels made of plexiglass, sexy dominatrix-inspired spat heels, and lace-up boots will be Fall '12 It girl items. All in all, it's a gorgeous autumnal lineup, just begging to be worn.
- Trends: Cropped cable-knit sweaters, hand-print chiffon dresses, and 1940s-inspired silhouettes.
- Colors: Warm, earthy tones like rust and terracotta juxtaposed against cool neutrals.
- Key Piece: Super-cute chunky cable-knit sweaters paired with terracotta-hued trousers; diaphanous hand-print chiffon dresses.
- Accessories: Ladylike round-toe pumps with heels made of plexiglass or filled with sand, sexy lace-up gladiator-inspired spat heels. Look out for the subtleties in each heel design.
- Who Would Wear It: Front-row attendees Natalie Portman and Dakota Fanning are high up on the list, but we think a plethora of A-list talent will be clamoring to wear this collection. Don't be surprised to see Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning flaunting Rodarte's wares, too.
>> With a front row that boasted some of the best fashion week sightings yet, the Fall 2012 Rodarte show was off to a pretty stellar start right out the gate. After all, its not every day that one sees George Lucas at a fashion show. Not to mention Natalie Portman. In fact, this front row was so heavy with star power that it prompted some to wonder, "Is the Rodarte show the new Oscars pre-show?"
Well, not quite — but it was far and away the Mulleavys' most controlled and accessible offering to date. The sisters found inspiration in Australia, culling influences from that country's colonial era, the Outback — and nearly everything else in between. The result was imaginative, transporting — and utterly wearable. There were super-structured coats; cropped cable-knit sweaters; slouchy dungarees; and a boatload of very appealing frocks. Fabrics ran the gamut from leather to chiffon, and some stunning Aboriginal-inspired prints were used throughout.
And — in case you were wondering — there were also plenty of dreamy gowns just right for the A-listers up front.
>> After teaming up with Opening Ceremony last season for the lower-priced and more everyday wearable Rodarte for Opening Ceremony collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy are back for another round for Fall 2011. Full of silk prints, cable-knit sweaters, and pinafore-inspired dresses, a preview of the Scandinavia-inspired collection — modeled by twins Gwen and Donna Loos, and hitting stores and online in early October — in the slideshow.
Photos by Autumn de Wilde
>> Kate and Laura Mulleavy are huge fans of Florence. “We have spent countless hours dreaming of the poetic city, every detail magnified by our own curiosity and imagination,” explains Laura. Fitting then, that they are guest designers at Pitt W in Florence this year. Today, their much anticipated Pre-Spring 2012 presentation of 10 elaborate gowns — detailed with Swarovski crystals, tulle, and feathers — was unveiled in a disused building in central Florence amongst neon light constructions. Inspired by Fra Angelico’s frescoes, the monks’ cells at the convent of San Marco, and Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, the 10 dresses are also accessorized with a hand-forged gold head-piece, belts and breastplates. But what will happen to the collection after this stint in Italy? Elle confirms that following Pitti, the dresses will be on permanent display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Until then, click through to see the pieces here.
Photos by Autumn de Wilde. Courtesy of Rodarte and Pitti Immagine
>> Rodarte's collaboration with Opening Ceremony is readily available online, but now the label's runway pieces can also be bought with the swipe of a mouse. Net-a-Porter just launched a Rodarte boutique featuring a selection of six pieces from Laura and Kate Mulleavy's Spring 2011 collection — the first collection with an eye to the more everyday wearable — and a $2,325 delft print skirt has already sold out.
>> Last night, three designers were name checked during Oscar acceptance speeches. Natalie Portman, who wore Rodarte last night, thanked "Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who designed the beautiful ballet costumes [in Black Swan]" after winning Best Actress, as two of those "people on films that no one ever talks about that are your heart and soul every day." And Colin Firth, who worked with Tom Ford on A Single Man, mentioned during his Best Actor speech — for The King's Speech — that he was grateful for his "very fortunate friendship with Tom Ford, to whom I owe a very big piece of this."
>> Libertine last showed in 2009 via presentation, and it's been since 2006 that the label has done a runway show. But designer Johnson Hartig brought his clothes back to the catwalk today, with former Libertine design partner Cindy Greene (who left the label two years ago), Rodarte’s Kate Mulleavy, Thom Browne, and Meredith Melling Burke and her daughter Eloise (who happily snapped pictures of the whole event with her mother’s iPhone) all in attendance.
The collection was a welcome explosion of color — ranging anywhere from hot pink to yellow — and pieces like giant puff-sleeved tops, funky frocks, and bright three-quarter length coats all displayed Hartig’s inclination for a vivid Fall. A screenprint effect was splashed over tops, silk dresses, tweed overcoats, cropped trousers, and even tights. The rare times when color wasn’t present, Hartig turned to black and grey wool jackets adorned with gothic-inspired embellishments. To finish off the looks, eye-catching tights and an amazing colorful selection of colorblock platform booties — designed by Hartig himself.