24 posts tagged "Kate Mulleavy"
Their past projects include the Fra Angelico Collection at LACMA and the solo exhibition States of Matter at MOCA, but Pasadena natives Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s latest artistic endeavor is their largest undertaking yet: designing the costumes for the L.A. Philharmonic’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, led by Gustavo Dudamel. For a short, four-performance run, the show presented itself as an opportunity for Rodarte to firmly secure itself as part of the city’s art establishment—not to mention to work with the legendary Frank Gehry.
Gehry’s set design transformed the Walt Disney Concert Hall—also of his design—into an abstract interpretation of Don Giovanni’s mind. A meeting of the minds is the right way to describe the sisters’ collaboration with Gehry, too. “We would have these meetings with Frank and would talk about things that had nothing to do with opera,” Laura Mulleavy told Style.com, citing the need to “learn each other’s language.” “But in that sense it was indirectly working on the project, because we needed to understand the way he was going to come up with the idea and eventually design a set, and then we would design the costumes to go with it.” Rodarte’s creations included two beaded gowns for each female lead, using silk, sequins, and intricate hand embroidery in a largely gray and white palette that introduced strategic color in the second act. For the men, they used denim (a first for the pair) to create a striking combination of straitjacket and armor, dressing each in a chest plate with a hand-painted marble finish—representing the chess pieces in Don Giovanni’s world.
In both lead time and inspiration, the Mulleavys’ operatic costume debut was a departure from their normal design process. “You are working with material that is so classic that everyone knows it, so you’re starting from a ground point that’s already decided for you,” Laura said of the source material for the year-long effort. But though they’re familiar with defining characters in their collections, these costume designs were part of an evolving collaboration that entailed multiple moving parts. “When you’re designing for characters, you really have to become a costume designer. You’re not the sole decider and you’re not a fashion designer in that situation.”
Don Giovanni concludes its run at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A., with performances May 24 and 26.
If at first it seemed perverse of Kate and Laura Mulleavy to turn their backs on the Renaissance glories of Florence in favor of an abandoned, dilapidated clothing store as the venue for the Rodarte presentation at Pitti, their decision made sense once you entered the labyrinthine space that producer Alex de Betak had customized for them with neon tubing and a huge ancient, cracked mirror. “We wanted to link the environment to what we do,” said Kate. True, the space artfully embodied Rodarte’s hermetic, sui generis personality.
Rather than Renaissance aesthetics, the Mulleavys focused on Renaissance ascetics, in particular the meditative state of heightened spirituality induced by the Fra Angelico frescoes on the walls of the monks’ cells under the Convent of San Marco. Every nook was intended to evoke those cells, in which the Rodarte gowns were suspended like serene distillations of the artist’s faded, dusty colors and delicate draperies. And a spiritual serenity was, in fact, the impression that lingered longest, perhaps because, in the past, the Mulleavys have made such an art of insinuating the barely suppressed violence of the physical world into their work.
The ten gowns were structured around a single blueprint: a sculpted torso, a long columnar skirt falling straight to the ground. The silhouette was familiar from classical art. Although Kate insisted that Hollywood couture has never been a reference for them, there was also something of the stately elegance of Adrian in this work, with an overlay of the kind of arcane, dreamlike flourishes that characterize Rodarte. A silk dress in vivid lapis blue was draped in lavender silk satin, its skirt a panel of electric blue sequins. Another dress, in dusty blue, was cross-draped with pink silk, like a couture version of Diana the Huntress. A halter-necked gown in white silk featured a torrent of white and red ruffles splitting open down its front. Hidden among the folds: molded Easter lilies, studded with pearls and crystals. The most spectacularly overwrought piece was composed of a cocoon of coppery lamé crisscrossed with huge scimitarlike feathers painted gold that floated over a skirt of white down. The whole ensemble was topped by a gold sunburst crown, one of the sculptural metal details inspired by Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
Such an outfit was a reminder that all ten of these pieces are destined for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection, rather than the bodies of living, breathing women. The significance of that wasn’t lost on Kate Mulleavy. She was free-associating about Carl Sagan making a record of the sounds of Earth and firing it off into space, where others would wonder at it in much the same way that she and Laura had spent five days marveling at Florentine glories that were hundreds of years in the making. In five centuries, will people be standing in front of Rodarte dresses in a similar state of transport? Pitti says yes.
Click here to see the full ten-piece collection >
Pitti Immagine, the organization that presents the seasonal Pitti Uomo and Pitti W fairs in Florence, convened a group of editors and buyers in Soho today to announce the specifics of this summer’s edition of the fair, which will include, for the first time, a new online component, called ePitti. Several brands will celebrate anniversaries and new debuts at the fair, including the Italian label Lubiam (which will mark its centennial), Pringle of Scotland (which will present a re-edition of iconic archival items, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins), Carhartt, and Victorinox, which will show its Remade in Switzerland collection by English designer Christopher Raeburn.
But exciting the most interest were the fair’s guest designers, both in from California for the occasion. Scott Sternberg will be the guest at Pitti Uomo, where he’ll show Band of Outsiders’ Spring ’12 menswear collection, as well as the Resort ’12 women’s collections by Boy and Girl. “We’re showing at a venue called Manifattura Tabacchi. It’s an old, abandoned tobacco factory,” he revealed. “It’s amazing. It’s huge; it feels kind of like this mini city when you’re in there.” Details were few but he did explain that all three lines will be shown together, as with his Fall ’11 runway show. “We’re always telling a story, and there are usually acts that happen in that story,” he said, “so it’ll all be in the same show, but clearly delineated, one from the next.” Given the parallel to Fall, we had to ask: Would there be looks parachuting in from above? “There will be no rappellers, there will be no one falling from the ceiling,” he promised. He promised this, too: The men’s show won’t appear again in New York in September. “Absolutely not,” he said. “This is your one chance to see Band Spring ’12.”
Kate and Laura Mulleavy were similarly tight-lipped about specifics but did profess a great love for the city of Florence. “There are very few places that you feel are these artistic centers—Florence and Kyoto are the two that really come to your mind,” Kate said. “It’s just unparalleled, the amount of creativity and art that exists in a place like Florence. It’s almost indescribable…It’s also about a connection to a place. A lot of what you’re seeing is frescos, which belong to the environment; you can’t go see a fresco here, you can’t move it. It’s really fascinating. When you talk about Florence, you’re talking about things that you have to be there to see and experience, that are so intertwined in the environment, which has always been an interest for Laura and me in terms of our own design and thought process. Trying to understand the landscape that we live in and that history.”
The collection that they’ll show, they were quick to note, won’t be a traditional pre-collection; it’ll be exclusive to Pitti. That’s not to say it might not one day hit stores. “It can be [sold], yes, to certain stores,” Laura clarified. “We’re figuring out what we want to do to keep it special and do something interesting with it on a retail level.”
There’s no stopping Lady Gaga. The singer/activist/muse/model/ giant keytar player (left) has picked up another credential—magazine columnist. She’ll pen a new monthly feature for V, the magazine announced today. [V]
Speaking of unstoppable, the sisters Mulleavy are plunging ahead too. The IHT checks in with the L.A.-based design duo on their upcoming Pitti show, their forthcoming collaboration with photographers Catherine Opie and Alec Soth, and their plans for the future. [IHT]
Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing checks in with Fashionista about his favorite shows of the season, from Tom Ford to Proenza Schouler to Marc Jacobs. [Fashionista]
And get ready to spend 30 days with the Kills’ Alison Mosshart: The rocker is the latest subject of Vogue U.K.’s Today I’m Wearing monthly style series. [Vogue U.K.]