Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fashion in Films: Black Swan -- Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte

"Building a tutu is one of the lost couture arts. Everyone will know it's like getting your hand on the prize, like a coveted piece of couture that no one ever gets to see. It's very interesting, the dance world. You can't go rent a tutu. You have to own it. And every ballet theatre has an archive and everything is stored and kept perfect. They're worn over time and they're ruined and they have slits and eyes in different spots, so they're never actually perfect, but from afar, when you're in the audience, it looks like one of the most beautiful things in the world. So our job then was to create tutus that were beautiful, but then they had to function completely. A tutu is thirteen layers of tulle sticking straight out and then it's over the body, so you can imagine. It's crazy!"
- Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte

     So I think it goes without saying that Natalie Portman deserves to win this year's Oscar for her lead role in Black Swan. But the one thing that some people can't seem to agree on is who is to take the credit for the costume design of the movie? The controversy started when the sisters and designers of Rodarte started getting all of the praise and glory for the costume design in the movie. Amy Westcott, the first costume designer on board for the film said that the Mulleavy sisters only collaborated on seven costumes and that she designed the majority of the film's costumes. All the She said-She said aside, I'm so in love with the black and white ballet ensemble that Natalie Portman wore in the film, which were in fact designed and made by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte

     Natalie Portman was solely responsible for the Black Swan and Rodarte collaboration. She was the one who introduced the sisters to the film's director Darren Aronofsky and that's how the collaboration even began. And despite the fact that it wasn't easy to create a tutu for such a grand ballet production, the Mulleavy sisters said the whole idea and aesthetics of the film naturally fits into theirs which made the production feel very natural. Kate and Laura Mulleavy had no prior fashion training when they started Rodarte in 2005 and since then the fashion brand has won several fashion awards, appeared on the cover of Women's Wear Daily, had collaborated with brands like Gap and Target, and had their work featured in so many fashion magazines and on so many famous celebrities on the red carpet. 

     When Natalie Portman accepted her first Oscar for this film, aside from the usual and expected thank you's to her team and family and the important people who made the film possible, her acceptance speech also included her gratitude to Kate and Laura Mulleavy for not only making the floor length, plum colored Rodarte gown that she wore that night, but also for their work in film. Besides, you can't think of any other images when referring to this film other than those black and white tutus! They were so beautiful. 

Rodarte: States of Matter at MOCA in West Hollywood, CA

Love, KB

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