New Romantics: RODARTE discover instant history in the La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles.
“They are romantic and wild. They are scientific, precise, and yet so enigmatic and bizarre. They are also... Magical. The La Brea tar pits articulate in every sense what we love about Los Angeles and California. As a city LA is so new, and yet at such close hand there exists a relic from the Ice Age that offers an instant sense of history. The first time I ever thought about science on a larger scale was because of the tar pits and the mysterious fossilised beings, like the sabre tooth tiger and mammoth, hidden inside... It is fascinating that a whole other world is preserved underneath the highways, pavements and museums. The fossils in La Brea were meant to be discovered – not forgotten. That is what is so incredible about Los Angeles, everything that is interesting here has to be discovered. Whether one is looking for gold, fame, fortune, or the perfect tamale, one has to seek it out. Everything we do as designers comes from a desire to learn and discover, to look at the world at a microscopic level in all its detail – to discover the fantastical in the natural.”
Teeming with chiffon ruffles and puffs, tulle, plumes and dreamy silhouettes, bourgeoning California-based label Rodarte’s decadent gowns are created in, “a way that isn’t done anymore, delicately and beautifully,” say sibling design duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy. With inspiration derived from roses, grand manors and tree bark to Rauschenberg and Gainsbourough paintings, the sisters’ wonderment with the world and love of the romantic past is infused into designs that have caught the attention, and subsequently been championed by, fashion icons Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Louboutin, Karen Elson and Anna Wintour. Living and working in Pasadena, the English Literature and Art History graduates from the University of California, Berkeley and self confessed “fashion fans who hate to wear dresses,” have steadfastly followed their own rules since starting up in 2005, and relish their distance from the New York fashion world. “There are a lot of opinions in fashion circles, but we think it’s nice to exist on our own terms. There isn’t a fashion community in LA, so we’ve had the freedom to build our own world, with our own way of working.”