Kate & Laura Mulleavy

New Romantics


Looking at Rodarte’s Kate (left) and Laura Mulleavy, one would never suspect that from these shy, awkward—they’d be the first to admit it—geeks comes some of the most imaginative, breathtakingly beautiful fashion around. More astonishing, perhaps, is that, as young designers, they have eschewed the safety-first strategy of other rookies who try to get a business foothold by creating perfectly accessible, commercial sportswear. “In the beginning, we didn’t quite understand that our path was different,” says Laura. “Slowly and naturally, it became apparent that our vision was not only different but also was becoming more so as each season passes.”

Two-time nominees for the CFDA’s Swarovski award for women’s wear, the Pasadena, California–based siblings elicit polarized responses: love for their dramatic romance rendered via exquisite craftsmanship or loathing for their perceived disconnect with real clothes. They’re often criticized for pushing a concept from which one might infer an idealization of women, femininity and life itself, but the Mulleavys refuse to bend. Fashion insiders hoping to incubate such talent and high-profile fans—this month’s cover girl, Cate Blanchett, and Kirsten Dunst among them—appreciate this resolution. “We want to create collections that are beautiful,” says Laura. “Wearability is subjective.”