See Images From Design Duo Rodarte’s Dreamy, Tulle-Bursting Debut Museum Show

"Rodarte" is the National Museum of Women in the Arts's first fashion exhibition in its 30-year history.

Installation view of "Rodarte" at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.

For only the second time in it’s storied 30-year history, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, has given over its galleries to fashion. The 94 items on display in the museum’s new show, “Rodarte,” sprung from the minds of sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, who have earned a cult-like following for their feather-dusted gowns and other garments bursting with tulle, dotted with seed pearls, or ruched within an inch of their life.

Kate Mulleavy (left) and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Photo © Clara Balzary

The show is organized thematically, with titles like “Magical Beautiful Horror” and “In the Garden” coming courtesy of guest curator Jill D’Alessandro, who is in charge of costume and textile arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Some of the show’s highlights include the feather-encrusted tutus worn by Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan—one in a slick black, the other a light, creamy, white confectionrepresenting the dual personalities of Portman’s character.

Rodarte, Fall/Winter 2008 backstage. Photo © Autumn de Wilde.

The sisters have drawn heavily on their early fascination with the movies of Alfred Hitchcock in their work. In 2017, they made their directorial debut, Woodshock, starring Kirsten Dunst, who embodies many of the physical manifestations of Rodarte’s delicate, mysterious, and ethereal qualities clothing.

The film is set in the Redwood forests of California, a stark landscape that isn’t far from where the Mulleavys were raised. The cinematic juxtaposition of gossamer sheaths and lacy silk garments set against the natural environment also features prominently in the exhibition, especially in the most recent collection on display, from the Spring/Summer 2018 runway show.

“Rodarte” is on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts through February 10, 2019. See more highlights below.

Installation view of “Rodarte” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.

Rodarte, Spring/Summer 2018 backstage. Photo © Autumn de Wilde

Installation view of “Rodarte” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.

Rodarte, Spring/Summer 2018 runway. Courtesy of Rodarte, photo © Greg Kessler/Kessler Studio.

Rodarte, Fall/Winter 2013 runway. Courtesy of Rodarte, photo © Greg Kessler/Kessler Studio.

Rodarte, Spring/Summer 2018 runway. Courtesy of Rodarte, photo © Greg Kessler/Kessler Studio.

Installation view of “Rodarte” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.

Installation view of “Rodarte” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.

Installation view of “Rodarte” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C. Photo: Floto+Warner.


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