American luxury fashion house Rodarte will be celebrated for its conceptual blend of high fashion and femininity in an exhibition opening this fall at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington DC.
Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy are behind Rodarte, which they launched in 2005 upon returning home to Los Angeles after college, quickly earning praise from both the art and fashion worlds. Their designs have graced the likes of Beyonce, Kirsten Dunst, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and Michelle Obama, among many other stars.
“Rodarte” will span the brand’s first 13 years, displaying nearly 100 complete looks as they appeared on the runway and including looks from the Mulleavys’ most iconic collections.
Early collections were acclaimed for their use of unconventional methods and materials that fused dressmaking and art-making processes, according to NMWA, while subsequent collections revealed mastery of one new technique after another.
The Mulleavys take inspiration from a variety of artistic sources — drawn from “film, literature, art history, nature and the California landscape,” says Jill D’Alessandro, guest curator of “Rodarte” — and many of those influences will be brought to light in the exhibition.
Among them, the brand’s Spring 2012 collection was inspired both by the art of Vincent Van Gogh and by a visit to the Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles, near the sisters’ Pasadena home. Nature, meanwhile, was a key influence in their Spring 2017 collection, which was inspired by the Spanish film “El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive)” (1973), with models dressed in layers of lace and tulle that evoked a honeycomb.
“Rodarte” will be the first fashion exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, whose collections feature painting, sculpture, photography and video by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago and Frida Kahlo.
The Rodarte exhibition opens on November 10 and runs through February 10.