Rodarte: Pasadena-raised fashion designers bring Arts and Crafts style to New York Fashion Week

Rodarte began in Pasadena, and the sisters behind the Los Angeles-based fashion label are once again drawing oceans of praise at New York Fashion Week. For their spring 2011 collection, Laura and Kate Mulleavy balanced their legendary streak of dark whimsy with wearable, well-structured, imaginative pieces, making this their most approachable showing yet.
Here’s what top fashion writers and critics are saying about the Mulleavys latest collection, which draws inspiration from the natural beauty of California:
“California dreamin’ has always been part of the story for Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters who have more often focused on blood-stained streaks from horror movies. But this time the duo looked beyond their Los Angeles studio and went back to their suburban Pasadena, California, roots. … Arts and Crafts have long been a strong focus in California. Rodarte has always been drawn to the handmade and artisanal, but this show was a fine example of designers moving their own ideas forward to become both more accessible and more desirable.”

“Inspired by their native Northern California and its redwood forests, the Mulleavys whipped up bold wood-panel prints and leaflike embroideries on tailored sportswear, ladylike draped silk skirts and dresses. A simple parquet-patterned shirtdress, with a crisp, neat collar, came with alluring shoulder cutouts, a peekaboo motif mirrored elsewhere on shoulder-baring blouses and frocks with cutout stomachs. Eventually, the nature theme gave way to porcelain patterns, plucked from antique vases, in rich, watery blues. … By show’s end, that vision turned flaxen in an ode to the California gold rush that read more gladiator than Wild West. (Perhaps connecting the dots: the California State Seal portrays both a miner and Athena.) But whatever the inspiration, the Mulleavys struck commercial gold.”
“So instead of bloody ballerinas, sleepwalking night-shift workers, and molting condors, we were treated to beautifully textured, beautifully cut clothing that could actually be worn by modern-day, living and breathing women. To wit: Brown and white check guipure lace pants paired with a peachy plaid Chinese collar blouse. A hip-swagged dress with a leaf-print bodice atop a wood-print skirt, and a series of stunning blue and white Ming print peplumed dresses, one of which, worn by Karlie Kloss, was cut out just above the waist to reveal a discreetly tantalizing triangle of flesh.”
“‘It’s very unexpected for Rodarte to do beautiful, natural hair,’ said hairstylist Odile GiIbert after the Mulleavy sisters’ show yesterday. … But the designers and Gilbert channeled a 1970’s California teen–which even accounted for the parade of blondes in the show. For a relaxed look, Gilbert left the hair down, added a swooping side part, and clipped a section back with barrettes designed by Rodarte (they matched the belts and shoes on the runway).”
Some more selections from the Rodarte collection, below:
(Getty Images)

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