Rodarte Takes the Stage

Designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy design costumes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Courtesy Rodarte

Yesterday evening, ballerinas donned Rodarte’s latest works of art for the New York City Ballet’s Two Hearts. Just as the abstract choreography, created by the company’s principal dancer (and husband of Natalie Portman) Benjamin Millepied, perfectly complimented composer Nico Muhly’s orchestration, the costumes’ monochromatic palette mirrored the stark work’s tragic love story. Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s twisted take on the tutu sang of their ability to extract something innovative from the conventions of modern dance.

The sisters’ latest theatrics come as no surprise. Rodarte’s journey began with the blockbuster Black Swan, in which their en pointe creations for the film’s classical Tchaikovsky ballet garnered many devout followers, including the MOCA, the Met’s Costume Institute and the Museum at F.I.T.; even Natalie Portman once said, “You get the sense you’re wearing a piece of art [when you wear a Rodarte dress].”

They take to the stage once again on May 18 with their first foray into the world of opera: collaborating with architect Frank Gehry on 20 costumes for Don Giovanni, Mozart’s most occult opera. While they remain coy about how they’ve intended to update the production’s eponymous character, “they are the perfect choice to design for the opera,” says Anna Wintour.

If there’s anything that the sisters have proven, it’s that their talent goes far beyond just craftsmanship; their 21st-century interpretations of classical characters break convention while still paying homage to tradition, bringing long-established masterpieces into the world of contemporary couture.  Whatever the sisters may conjure, it is undeniable that their confections will be worthy of ovation. –Rudy Lee