Rodarte designers reveal L.A. landmark location for fall 2019 runway show

Porter’s 3rd Annual Incredible Women Gala, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Oct 2018
Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy
(Matt Baron / REX / Shutterstock)

Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy have revealed the venue for their upcoming fall 2019 runway show, which will be an L.A. homecoming for the duo.

They’ll be showing Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. at The Huntington Library and Gardens in their hometown of Pasadena, Calif. The landmark was established by Southern California pioneer and railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington in 1920, first as a library for rare books, photographs and letters written by the likes of Chaucer, George Washington and Henry David Thoreau, and later as an art gallery for the family’s American and European art holdings including Thomas Gainsborough’s famous painting “The Blue Boy.” There are also 120 acres of botanical gardens, including a Japanese, Rose and Desert ones in which to hold an afternoon fashion show.

“We have dreamt of doing a show at The Huntington since we first started designing. Our grandmother and mother introduced us to The Huntington as children and we have been inspired by its beauty ever since,” the designers said. “We specifically drew inspiration from the gardens for our spring 2007 collection, and it will be amazing to see the fall 2019 collection presented in this location.”

The designers are partnering with JNSQ — short for je ne sais quoi — on the event, which will mark the launch of the California winery’s rose cru.

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A view of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
(Huntington Library)

The Mulleavys founded their handcraft-luxe label in their parents’ Pasadena guest house in 2005, with just 10 pieces. (Their artist-mom, Victoria, still helps do some of the bead work on their creations.) Over the years, they have shown their collection during both New York and Paris fashion weeks, and developed a cult following among the art and Hollywood crowds, dressing “Crazy Rich Asians” actress Constance Wu at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this month; “Black Panther” star Danai Gurira for the 2019 Golden Globes; Elle Fanning; Brie Larson; Natalie Portman; Sarah Paulson; Katy Perry; former First Lady Michelle Obama, and more, and collaborating with the likes of fine art photographers Catherine Opie and Nan Goldin.

The Huntington Gardens setting makes sense for the designers, who have recently been drawn to outdoor runway show venues as a backdrop for their romantic designs and elaborate fresh flower headpieces, including the New York Marble Cemetery, founded in 1830, in the East Village neighborhood of New York, which was the site for their rain-soaked spring 2019 collection, and the Left Bank garden they chose for their spring 2018 collection in Paris.

Although they were not formally trained, the Mulleavys’ personal and artisanal approach to clothing design helped define a new fashion aesthetic in Los Angeles, and their runway collections are often built around narratives inspired by their California upbringing, from weekend jaunts to the gritty Santa Cruz boardwalk (tie-dyed slipdresses, studded biker jackets and tattoo embroideries from fall 2013), to long afternoons spent playing beneath the majestic redwoods (tooled leather jackets, wood grain print dresses, “Chinese plaid” shirts and pants and carved wooden heels from spring 2011).

The show comes a day ahead of the opening of New York Fashion Week and marks the first time the L.A. designers have presented a collection on the West Coast.

Rodarte RTW Spring 2019
A look from the Rodarte spring 2019 ready-to-wear collection.
(Giovanni Giannoni / WWD)