Hare Krishnas, Psychedelic Skaters, & Punks: The Early Muses of RODARTE

Everyone has to start somewhere.  For example, Barneys New York founder Barney Pressman funded his first store in 1923 with the $500 he raised by pawning his wife’s engagement ring.  In this column, we talk with the fashion industry’s luminaries about how they got their businesses off the ground.  In other words: the Big Bang, or how it all began.

Few designers have enjoyed a more golden ascent than Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers behind Rodarte. Their launch collection consisted of just ten pieces, but it was enough to prove their brilliance: it secured the sisters a cover story in Women’s Wear Daily and a meeting with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.   Design history was made.

Barneys New York was one of their earliest champions.

Below, Kate and Laura have written a little essay for us about the earliest inspirations behind their whimsy-infused creations.

Sometimes, it seems as though we have always created together.  As children, we were inseparable and always made things together.

We grew up by the beach near Santa Cruz, California, amongst tide pools, redwood forests, mustard fields, California poppies, and apple orchards.  To this day, it inspires everything we do.

Hare Krishnas, psychedelic skaters, punks, poets, and surfers all defined the way we saw the world, and helped to shape our creative inclination.  We have always understood fashion to be a means for self expression and freedom of thought.

We used to go see movies in an old Deco theater near the beach.  The woman who ran the theater had a beehive and wore the cutest 50’s beaded cardigans.  We were fascinated by the teenage boys with large green and blue mohawks that used to hang out at the theater.  We talked all through the movies, asking questions about their hair … that was probably our earliest sign that we would go into fashion.

- Kate and Laura Mulleavy

Click here to shop for Rodarte at Barneys.com.

Portrait of the Mulleavy sisters taken by Autumn de Wilde