February 16, 2009 New York
Certainly the intuitive Pasadena-based sister act continues to bring a frisson of excitement to New York fashion week. Their clothes generate strong reactions—positive, more often than not. Backstage, editors were effusive in praise of the collection's mix of Balenciaga-like futurism and off-kilter romance. The Mulleavys wisely moved away from the Japanese and robotic references this season and toward something more organic: metal, wood, and stone. "We were interested in the building and taking apart of homes," Laura explained. "And then an image of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein magically popped into our minds." Thus anime made way for…yes, monsters.
The Mulleavys' main conceit was marbling. Pale leathers and silk chiffons were printed or silk-screened to resemble veined gray stone, then cut up Edward Scissorhands-style, collaged onto skirts and minidresses—like Frankenstein's skin was pieced together—and worn with fierce hip boots by Nicholas Kirkwood. "Like straitjackets" is how Laura described some of the bondage-y leathers. When it came to knits, the sisters swept away the cobwebs to make room for denser, shaggy cardigans and thick cowls.
If the unvarying silhouette (high hem, high boots) was a bit relentless, each number was worked in such an individual way that it looked handmade. What the show lacked in breadth, it made up for in singularity.