Laura & Kate Mulleavy

FASHION DESIGNERS, RODARTE



Project: Develop fall 2011 collection



Special Report: How Genius Works As founders of the Los Angeles-based label Rodarte, the Mulleavys have quickly become two of the fashion industry's hottest young stars, thanks to a design sensibility that takes cues from both the romantic and the haunting. In 2009, the Council of Fashion Designers of America named the self-taught sisters Womenswear Designers of the Year. Here, Laura Mulleavy discusses the inspiration for their fall 2011 collection

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We start a collection by talking. The initial idea for this one was the prairie, the great American plains. You never know where a starting point comes from—sometimes it’s just a memory. Our minds wander off; we do a lot of research with books and images. Images help us create a feeling.

The first thing we thought of for this collection was Terrence Malick’s film Days of Heaven. What we loved was the light. We wanted to show light in a field of wheat throughout the day, so we did five variations of a dress. We started with dawn—a pale yellow, like a sunrise. Then we did a midday print with a blue sky and roaming clouds, and then a sunset print with pastel tones. We did a stormy version of the dress that was inspired by tornadoes. Storm chasers fascinate us. You have an idyllic space with these beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but in between, you have all this possibility for something to go haywire.

We also looked to The Wizard of Oz. The way the film moves from black-and-white to Technicolor, that had a strong pull, so we put two red dresses at the end of the show. When it came to the textures, a big inspiration was the artist Andrew Wyeth. For example, his painting of a curtain blowing in the wind—we thought it was interesting that a curtain meant to block light could be so delicate. We wanted to explore things that looked soft. You might think of prairie materials as being very weighty or rustic, but here’s something very delicate and see-through.

Mostly, though, we were inspired by the landscape, by the flatness of the plains, by sky country. We grew up taking a lot of road trips, and Kate and I think all of our work is very nature-driven.

—As told to Nicole Allan

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/05/laura-kate-mulleavy/308462/