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'Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection’ on view at LACMA

December 19, 2011 |  2:21 pm

Rodarte sketch

It's worth a visit to the L.A. County Museum of Art to see "Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection," by L.A. fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, newly installed in the museum's Italian Renaissance gallery, surrounded by classic Renaissance artworks.

Coming around the corner from the elevators into the third floor gallery, the nine gowns take your breath away, suspended from invisible wires in the middle of the space, their warm colors (cantaloupe, mint green and celestial blue), draped and pleated textures playing off the figures in the frescoes and paintings on the walls. 

Wing-like design motifs and soft feathers make some of the gowns look as if they could unfold and take flight. (And bring to mind the Mulleavy's costume designs for the film "Black Swan.") Others are decorated with hand-forged gold metallic headpieces, breastplates and belts inspired by gilded rays and other elements of Renaissance art.

Rodarte at LACMA
The collection, on view through Feb. 5, was first shown in June 2011 as a site-specific installation at Pitti Imagine, an apparel trade show in Florence, Italy. The gowns are the first works by Rodarte to enter LACMA's permanent collection, a promised gift to the Costume and Textiles Department.

The Mulleavy sisters were on hand Thursday to discuss the collection. Museum Director Michael Govan introduced them, saying how pleased he was to have the collection, which he described as "something that is contemporary that responds to art history."

The designers traveled to Florence for the first time for the project, and were overcome with the beauty of the art, especially the Fra Angelico frescoes at San Marco. "Everywhere we went, we cried," said Laura. "Color really guided us for this," Kate said. "We usually work with the idea of who is going to wear or buy something. But this was an opportunity to do something just to make it."

"Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection," through Feb. 5, Ahmanson Building, third floor, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 857-6000.

-- Booth Moore

Images, from top: "Fra Angelico Collection" sketch by Kate Mulleavy, promised gift of Rodarte. Credit: Kate and Laura Mulleavy.

"Fra Angelico Collection" gowns by Rodarte. Museum Associates/LACMA.


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