Letters from New York: Rodarte at the Cooper-Hewitt


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If you’re planning a trip to New York between now and mid-March, there’s a new exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum that focuses on Pasadena residents Kate and Laura Mulleavy — they of the acclaimed U.S. fashion label Rodarte.
The exhibit delves into the Mulleavys’ unique process of creation; The sisters execute complex manipulation of materials and meticulous techniques, first deconstructing and then rebuilding the elements into high fashion.
As an example, from January’s lengthy New Yorker profile by Amanda Fortini:
“They often speak of ‘building’ a dress. To create their garments, which tend to include a multitude of textiles (and finicky ones, like tulle, organza, leather, and lace), adornments (crystals, feathers, rosettes), and techniques (draping, pleating, dyeing), the Mulleavys work with a team of three seamstresses, a pattern-maker, a dyer, a leather worker, and three knitters. One mid-length yellow chiffon dress from the 2006 fall collection took a hundred and fifty hours to complete.”

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Top fashion critics heap praise on Pasadena-born Rodarte following New York Fashion Week showing

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The New York Times Style Magazine-run blog The Moment is keeping an unofficial-official Scorecard for New York Fashion Week, and like we said in our previous post on Pasadena’s (most ever?) dynamic fashion duo, Rodarte is sweeping up accolades for its Tuesday showing.
Alison S. Cohn of The Moment puts it this way:

“Tuesday’s shows provided an object lesson in how to play the Scorecard rankings game. Here’s a tip: avoid showing on the same day as wool cobweb-cheesecloth-macram creating, CFDA Women’s Wear Designer of the Year award-winning duos. If you don’t, even the finest djellaba draping can come across as, well, a little merchy.”


Check out the round-up of praise collected for Pasadena-native sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy — the heavy hitters behind Rodarte.

And if you think Cohn’s kidding about the “cobweb-cheesecloth-macram,” see below.


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(Getty Images)

Haute couture: Pasadena designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy showcase Rodarte spring line at New York Fashion Week


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Locals Kate and Laura Mulleavy are the dynamic powerhouses behind Rodarte, the high-fashion line founded right here in Pasadena. Los Angeles Magazine calls Rodarte “the most conceptual and couture-level label out of Southern California right now.”

The evolution of Rodarte has been a fascinating one. A Style.com interview with the Mulleavys from Dec. 2008 gives a glimpse into their skyrocket ride into the couture stratosphere:

“… Rodarte is sui generis. Of course, they still live in their parents’ house in Pasadena. It may be a long way, both geographically and psychologically, from New York, but on a good day it’s a 20-minute drive from downtown L.A., a place where much of the brass-tacks work of fashion gets done …”


At right is Kate Mulleavy (right) and Laura Mulleavy with Kirsten Dunst at the 2009 Council of Fashion Designers of America fashion awards at Lincoln Center on June 15.

And Tuesday marked the debut of the sisters’ spring 2010 line at Fashion Week in New York.


“The Rodarte show was one of many hopeful auguries this week, signs that New York fashion has already started to regenerate itself through improvisation, experiment, collaboration and the locally prized habit of taking risks.”


Deconstructed, tribal, shredded, patchwork, Gothic — observe for yourself:


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(Getty Images)

Manhattan’s own San Gabriel Mountains

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If you’re visiting Manhattan before Oct. 24, you can camp out among the majestic San Gabriels.

Geographically confusing, but true.

Environmental artist Fritz Haeg has created “Dome Colony X in the San Gabriels,” an 8,000-square-foot installation at X Initiative art space in Chelsea.

The project invites visitors to populate a “mountain colony” of dome tents arranged around a circular stage. A silhouette of the San Gabriel Mountains covers the surrounding walls.

Last year, Haeg designed a local “Edible Estates” installation at Descanso Gardens. That project was based on his book “Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn,” which challenges landowners to replace traditional grass yards with sustainable gardens.

Above, “Dome Colony X in the San Gabriels,” installation view at X Initiative, New York. Below, the image and silhouette of the San Gabriels. (Photos courtesy of Fritz Haeg and X Initiative)

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