Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection
Illustration by Kate Mulleavy

We've long worshipped at the altar of high fashion, and fashion exhibits are today's hottest museum tickets. Now top designers have a stunning exhibit at our city's temple of high art, LACMA.

"Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection" is a multi-dress installation inspired by frescoes by the Italian Renaissance painter Fra Angelico and sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Monastery paintings and cathedral marble may not sound like exciting dress fodder, but in the hands of design duo Rodarte, they are expressed as a wild explosion of colors--pistachio green, periwinkle blue, tangerine--using feathers, metal barbs, Swarovski crystals and various silks.

It's not surprising that Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the L.A.-based sisters who started Rodarte in 2005, turned a trip to Italy into a triumph; their designs show up on Vogue covers and Michelle Obama, and their Black Swan costumes stole the spotlight from Natalie Portman.

Through February 5, LACMA's dresses stand proudly on a gold plinth, surrounded by 500-year-old masterpieces. On the day we went, a few female tweens stood transfixed by these strange apparitions, alien yet at home in a roomful of deities.

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Ahmanson Bldg., 3rd fl.; 323-857-6000 or lacma.org

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