Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy Talk Fall 2012, Their Childhood, and George Lucas

Kate and Laura Mulleavy
Phot: Getty Images
Laura and Kate Mulleavy.

They show in New York and their roots are firmly planted in Los Angeles, but for their Fall 2012 collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy took us all somewhere very, very far away: the Australian Outback. But where other designers might get a spark of creativity after traveling, the Mulleavys didn’t need a plane ticket to inspire the dusty color palette, hand-crafted detailing, and even cave painting-inspired prints.

“People ask us, ‘Did you just go there?’ No!” said Laura, speaking to a group of reporters in a Q&A at the Mandarin Oriental on Thursday morning. “We didn’t need to go to Australia to do a collection off of it—we just had an idea.”

“It will be interesting to go after we’ve done all this research,” added Kate. “It’s such a mythic place for so many people.”

That incredible sense of imagination that the sisters tap when designing their collections is something they’ve had since childhood, they said, growing up in a very insular world in northern California (they now live in Pasadena).

“We got to live in our own heads,” said Kate of their adolescence.

“We thought a leprechaun lived in our attic for a long time, “ Laura laughed. “We were very imaginative.”

They both attended UC Berkeley, where Kate studied art history and Laura majored in English literature, after switching from a pre-med major. They took a costume design class together—which they both dropped after three weeks.

“We were both very specific about wanting to do things we wanted to do,” Kate said. “We wanted to create our own world.”


Photo: Imaxtree

Rodarte's Fall 2012 collection.

One of their heroes—who’s also made his name creating his own world—is Star Wars director George Lucas. Lucas sat in the front row at the Rodarte show on Tuesday, sparking speculation that the design duo might have another film costuming gig up their sleeves after working on Black Swan. The girls say nothing is in the works.

“We’re just huge Star Wars fans!” Laura said.

“He’s changed the landscape of cinema and popular culture,” Kate added. “We’re so honored to have him at our show.”

Some would say that the Mulleavys' ever-growing brand (they launched their own footwear this season) are on their own way to changing the fashion landscape—but they want to take things one step at a time.

“You don’t get to that place overnight,” said Kate. You spend your life getting there.”