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Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy have a reputation for being a more esoteric, conceptual sort of fashion designers, and Amanda Fortini has thrown another log on that fire with a seven-page profile in the latest issue of The New Yorker. "Rodarte is the fashion equivalent of a Basquiat," she says, quoting a writer for the New York Observer. "People in the know really love it, but to everyone else it's inscrutable or a little bit ugly."
Fortini followed the sisters as they prepared for their upcoming 2010 spring collection, and found that they're quite happy with their inscrutable clothes. "The most unhappy Laura and I have ever been was when we heard that we made 'a pretty dress,'" Kate Mulleavy said to Fortini. "We want to make people think, and, once you decide to do that, you will have people that won't like what you're doing."
Unfortunately, as many of us are all too aware, most of the people who do like what the Mulleavys are doing can't afford to wear it, including the fashion director of Barneys. It's not surprising when one gown costs $25,000, which is an impressive tag for any dress, let alone one from a line like Rodarte, which was started with just $16,500 made from Laura's waitressing and the sale of Kate's record collection.
There are other behind-the-scenes tidbits peppered throughout the article. For example, Fortini says that Kate doesn't drive, so Laura drives her everywhere. But then, as payback, Laura makes Kate do all the talking.
It gets really interesting at the end, when Fortini observes the rocketship of Rodarte's reputation and says, "If there is any doubt about Vogue's hand in anointing new designers, one has only to look to the industry's prize circuit." The Mulleavys have received about two hundred and ten thousand dollars in fashion-industry prizes since 2006. And Anna Wintour seems to have plans of her own for the pair. "The Mulleavys are ripe for a house who might be looking for a designer," Wintour told Fortani. "A place like Schiaparelli, which is just sitting there waiting for the economy to be better—I think they'd be perfect for that." We have to admit, the lady has a point.
· Twisted Sisters [The New Yorker]