The CFDA Award Winners You Probably Don’t Know: Laura and Kate Mulleavy
June 17, 2009
Laura and Kate Mulleavy were the winners of this years Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer(s) of the Year. Who are these award winning ladies, you ask? Well let me give you the run down.
In 2008 the sisters won the CFDA coveted award of Emerging Womenswear Designer Award and have won a following of people like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Louboutin. However, they did not just appear in the fashion world, they worked their way up through the back door.
In 2005 Rodarte was founded by the Mulleavy sisters in Pasadena,California. The line, bearing their mother’s maiden name, was made after their graduation from U.C. Berkeley. Kate and Laura, 30 and 29 years old respectively, graduated college in 2001 with liberal arts degrees. They boarded the plane to New York with 10 garments on their laps and hope in their hearts that one day they would make their name in the fashion community. They arrived to the fashion capital and showed their collection to every editor and buyer they could track down. Their attention to detail would be their key to success. Their couture-like style shot them straight to the top and the awards began to pour in.
These two don’t look like your typical fashion-passion ladies but their work speaks volumes. They take the approach of minimal yet extravagant, rough yet refined, intellectual yet effortless, something I am a HUGE fan off. Their style is said to resemble the craftsmanship of influential designers like Coco Chanel. They have won even support from major Fashion Heads like Anna Wintour.
The sisters were destined for greatness at an early age. At the age of 5 they began drawing. Their mother, an artist, exposed them to the arts. Their father, a botanist, exposed them to math and science but also had an interest in photography. He took pictures of abstract patterns which have inspired their pattern choices of today.
They knew that if they would do fashion they needed to get out of Pasadena. Before they left to take their collection to New York they took a chance by sending a letter to Cameron Silver, a L.A. Stylist. They asked him to review the collection and from then on he has become their mentor.
When they first arrived to New York they had no appointments to show their collection. They were banking on their unique idea of look books made of paper dolls and sending those to top editors. They got their first call from Women’s Wear Daily and they were on the cover in a matter of 3 days.
In 2006 their line grew to 16 pieces but they were limited because of the complication of their fabrics and sewing process. They make each garment start to finish one at a time to make them beautiful and special. It has taken them 100 hours to make one knee length cocktail dress!
The self taught sisters gained their designing skills from trial and error. They are not afraid of trying new things and learning from their team which works closely with them. The process they have is pretty simple. They start with inspiration and work in a abstract way to unfold the collection. They like to capture a moment or feeling as opposed to a literal translation of their ideas and inspirations.
Since they began they have won recognition such as:
– 2006 Runner up in CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Competition
– 2007 Rodarte gown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute
– 2008 Rodarte is selected a finalist in the ANDAM competition
– 2008 Rodarte is awarded the CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer award
– 2008 Rodarte is awarded the Swiss Textiles Award
– 2009 Rodarte is awarded Womenswear Designers of the Year
Rodarte is a marvelous and captivating collection with prices ranging from $1300 to $2000. Made form only the most expensive fabrics and time consuming techniques, the ultra feminine line is sold everywhere from Barneys to Bergdorf. Their clientele includes Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Obama and the style sweetie Chloe Sevigny.
These two sisters are an inspiration for me because, as a college student looking to get into the fashion arena, I want to know that there is hope for the untrained. After researching the journey of the Mulleavy sisters, I see that anything is possible with faith, talent, and tenacity. They are bringing back the importance of detail and care that should be put into every garment that a women wears. They certainly are hot up-and-coming designers that deserve all the success that is soon to come after their win at the CFDA awards.
So ladies, here is to you! Thanks for paving the way, now watch out for me!