A few weeks ago I went to see fashion label, Rodarte’s newly installed Fra Angelico Collection at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). I also attended a lecture featuring the Rodarte designers, sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy.
The show consists of 10 couture gowns, made of silk fabrics (chiffon, organza, lame, taffeta, georgette, tulle and satin) that feature beautiful detailing created with feathers, crystals, sequins, handmade silk flowers and hand-forged gold metallic sculptural adornments.
The collection is inspired by Italian art, particularly Renaissance frescoes in the monastery of San Marco by Fra Angelico in Florence, Italy, as well as the Baroque sculpture, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome. To give the collection some reference, the crown of the main dress is perfectly positioned in the museum room over a large painting, Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, and Antoninus by Master of the Fiesole Epiphany.
The dresses are installed in such an impactful way. I love the crown placement, the arrangement of the dresses with varying heights, and the dark shadows they cast.
When I was at the exhibit Natalie Portman (one of my faves) was also there with her adorable family. She is one of the brand’s biggest supporters and has been long before their work together on Black Swan. Natalie seemed to be as in awe as I was and was taking lots of photos. She also snapped a few photos on her iPhone and it seemed as though she was sending the photos to Kate and Laura to let them know she was there.
The details and craftsmanship on each dress is amazing. This sequined, textured, metallic peplum style top was stunning.
Gold hardware like this on a few of the dresses showed the sisters choice to create art pieces, rather than functional, wearable clothes.
I am completely obsessed with this dress! The color, shape, feather detailing and waistband are gorgeous. It is made of silk georgette and crinkle silk chiffon with hand molded easter lilies, feathers, and crystal elements. It’s almost a shame it will never be worn.
After seeing the exhibit, I attended a lecture with the designers and here is what they had to say about the collection:
The gowns aren’t necessarily meant to be worn. This was the beauty of a special collection that was put up for just one day in Florence. We wanted the colors and fabrics to look larger than life, but we have to work with form and body with fittings, so that is constant reminder of what we are doing and gives us parameters. We were so inspired by the frescoes in San Marco and the figures in the paintings. The forms looked so hard and sculptural. We loved the vivid colors used, especially the pinks. Pink was made with arsenic then and women were wearing it and being poisoned at the same time.
We were so inspired by people living with art in such an intimate way and wanted each dress to feel saintly. It’s probably my (Kate) favorite art of all time. Figures are rooted and permanent in the frescoes, but they defy that by being delicate, ethereal and transcendent. We like how art was used to communicate not just religion, but to communicate on a broad human level. The statues by Bernini are so amazing because they are made of marble, but they have so much movement.
How amazing are they? I have more on the interview that will go up in the next few days, so stay tuned! Hope you are all having a great week. Doesn’t it feel like it should be Thursday already?