Rodarte on Stage

The Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte are trying their hand at costume design again, this time on the stage. Kate and Laura Mulleavy designed costumes for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni performed by the L.A. Philharmonic. The show opens May 18 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and features 20 costumes by the duo, including gowns and menswear.

This project comes after the controversy that surrounded credits for the film Black Swan. Kate and Laura created seven ballet costumes for the movie. After the release of Black Swan, reports about how many costumes they actually designed were exaggerated, and head costume designer Amy Wescott was vilified by the fashion media and in quotes from Kate and Laura. It was disappointing to read the contrived drama about what should have been a successful and celebrated collaboration. Hopefully this time around there won’t be any controversy as the Mulleavy sisters don’t have to share credit for their costume designs for the opera.

I have mixed feelings about Rodarte. The sisters’ designs have evolved toward sophistication, and their construction techniques have improved over time. They have an avant-garde aesthetic. They find inspiration and beauty everywhere, especially in untraditional places. This has gotten the Mulleavys into trouble in the past though — a beauty collaboration with MAC based on Mexico’s colors and culture was called “tasteless,” and their fall 2012 collection was accused of being offensive and insensitive because of its appropriation of Australian aboriginal designs. There is a long traditional of avant-garde fashion designers working in costume design on the stage, so it’s nice to see Rodarte carrying on that torch.

No matter what the Mulleavy sisters do in the future, I’m sure they will stay in the headlines.


  1. Terri says:

    How do you find out about stuff like this? Inquiring minds want to know…

    • jacqueline says:

      I read a lot — fashion blogs both about industry news (Fashionista & Refinery29) and personal style, Women’s Wear Daily headlines (I subscribe to their daily headlines email and click through to try to find their free content), fashion magazines my work has a subscription to (W, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar), follow links people post on twitter, NY Times articles, etc.

  2. KH_Tas says:

    I have always felt a little queasy about how the fashion press rush to the defense of their own without checking whether or not the complaint is warranted.

    I, too have mixed feelings towards Rodarte, for much of the same reasons.

    • jacqueline says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only one. Sometimes I get a little nervous critiquing Rodarte because they are so beloved by the fashion industry.

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