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A gown in cantaloupe pleated silk with a gold ray belt; a pink silk georgette dress with Swarovski elements and a golden breastplate.
All dresses, 2011. Promised gifts of Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy), Maria Arena Bell, Susan Casden, Eva Chow, DNA Boutique, Allison Sarofim, Karyn Silver, Christine Suppes, Lizzie Tisch, Dasha Zhukova and an anonymous donor. Photos copyright 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA
This aqua silk-georgette-and-sequin release-pleat gown's tucked elements and shimmering sequins suggest the ocean.
Bernini's white marble sculpture in a Roman chapel shows an angel preparing to pierce Teresa of Avila with a golden shaft. It was part of Rodarte's inspiration for the gold lamé, silk and hammered sequin gown and gold ray headpiece.
Brightly colored Fra Angelico frescoes depicting angels and images of the crucifixion were catalysts for the Mulleavy sisters' collection, including this pleated silk-and-taffeta dress.
A sketch by Kate Mulleavy shows the diversity of silhouettes and colors in the Fra Angelico Collection.
Rodarte designed ballet costumes for the 2010 film Black Swan. Here, a sketch by Kate Mulleavy. At right, Laura Mulleavy fits Natalie Portman.
Photo: Autumn de Wilde
"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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