>> In the Jan. 18, 2010 edition of the New Yorker, Amanda Fortini profiles Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte and their quest to go against your typical "high gloss, high fashion, glamour, put-together, shiny, perfect — everything too exact" label, in the words of Laura. The Fall 2009 thigh-high wraparound boots Nicholas Kirkwood created for Rodarte, for example, were meant to evoke "hands wrapped in plastic in a morgue."
Kate told the magazine, "The most unhappy Laura or I have ever been was when we heard we made 'a pretty dress.' We want to make people think, and, once you decide to do that, you will have people that don't like what you're doing." She later added, "The other day, we were laughing that if we could take our clothes and bury them, and in ten years take them out, we would actually be satisfied [with how they look]."
Anna Wintour gives her two cents »
Rodarte produces only a thousand pieces a year and has minimal profits — according to the Mulleavy's father, William, who acts as their CFO and business advisor: "What profit we make goes back into research and development, and making samples for the next season." And their prices are high — $25,000 for a Rodarte dress is not unheard of. Even longtime supporter and Barneys fashion director Julie Gilhart admits, "I am not necessarily able to buy their clothes because they're on the high end of the price range, and I'm a working girl."
But their Spring 2010 show brought a sighting of Renaud Dutreil, chairman of LVMH North America, which has spurred rumors that LVMH is looking to acquire or take a stake in the company ever since. And Anna Wintour, who has been known to match designers with design houses, went on record saying: "The Mulleavys are ripe for a house who might be looking for a designer. A place like Schiaparelli, which is just sitting there waiting for the economy to be better — I think they'd be perfect for that."
Karl Lagerfeld is also a fan. During Paris Couture in 2006, Lagerfeld stopped by Colette in Paris and bought a black georgette-and-satin dress with high neckline for his muse Lady Amanda Harlech. Kate, who happened to be at the store at the time, recalls, "I saw this hand with amazing rings on it touching a dress. And then I felt that hand tap me on the shoulder, and Lagerfeld said something like he thought the dresses were special, and he was going to buy one. I was in shock."
Laura, 29, and Kate, 30, have a unique bond, New Yorker reporter Fortini writes:
The sisters act like a single organism. They share an email account, and send unsigned emails, making it impossible to know which one you're corresponding with. They used to share a cell phone as well. 'We didn't realize it was weird,' Kate said.
Autumn de Wilde, who has photographed Rodarte shows backstage from their first collection on, corroborates: "I've never had a best friend that's two people before this. Kate has many times told me a story, and Laura will say, 'Kate you weren't there, I was' and will continue the story." Another friend, the artist Ari Marcopoulos, notes of the Mulleavys' relationship: "Kate doesn't drive, so Laura drives everywhere, and the payback is that Kate has to speak. 'You have to talk, because I'm driving you around,' Laura will say. That's how they work together."
But Anna Wintour has a caveat: "They're very smart, very savvy girls — don't be put off by that naive facade they have."