The Mulleavy sisters are UC Berkeley graduates from Aptos, California. They both credit their West Coast upbringing as a major source of inspiration for their collections. The label "Rodarte" is the original Spanish pronunciation and spelling of their mother's maiden name, "Rodart." The Mulleavy sisters' first, entirely improvised marketing effort was the creation of 30 handmade paper dolls, each delivered with a paper armoire containing seven paper Rodarte dresses. After their initial collection, the Mulleavys appeared on the cover of Women's Wear Daily and had a meeting with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Museums and exhibitions
Rodarte is in the permanent collections of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Rodarte was featured in the fall 2007 exhibit BLOGMODE at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, as well as several exhibits at The Museum at FIT including Luxury in spring 2007, Gothic: Dark Glamour in fall 2008, and American Beauty: Aesthetics & Innovation in Fashion in spring 2010. Arnhem Fashion Biennale featured Rodarte vignettes in July 2007, 2009 and 2011. In 2013, the Boston Museum of Fine Art featured their Blue and White Embroidered Spring 2011 Dress and Printed shoes. For the 2013 Punk: Chaos to Couture Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute show, 4 looks of Rodarte's Spring 2009 and Fall 2008 Collections were on display.
In 2008, Rodarte was featured in Artforum, making the Mulleavy sisters the first fashion designers to be featured in the magazine after Issey Miyake in 1982. In February 2010, Rodarte had their first solo-exhibition, at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (the design branch of the Smithsonian Institution).
In May 2011, Rodarte contributed artworks to the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts Cell Phone Stories project. Their contribution included sketches based on artworks held in the LACMA's permanent collection.
In February 2011, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles opened Rodarte: States of Matter, the first West Coast museum exhibition of the Rodarte's fashion and costume designs from Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010 and pieces from The Black Swan.
In 2011, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) acquired the Rodarte Spring 2012 couture collection. LACMA displayed the renaissance-inspired clothing in their Italian renaissance gallery, alongside Italian renaissance artworks, in the exhibition Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection from December 2011 to February 2012.
Rodarte was nominated for its first CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer award in June 2006, followed by another nomination in 2007. Rodarte was awarded the CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer in June 2008. Rodarte was then awarded the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award in June 2009.
In Fall 2006, Rodarte was awarded runner-up in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition.
In the summer of 2008, Rodarte was selected as a finalist in the ANDAM competition.
On November 13, 2008, The Mulleavy sisters won The Swiss Textiles Award in Zurich Switzerland, worth 100,000 euros. They were the first women to win the award and the first winners from outside Europe.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy were one of the 50 recipients to win the 2009 United States Artists Fellowship.
Rodarte is awarded the Star Honoree Award from Fashion Group International in 2011.
Rodarte was named one of Fast Company’s 50 Designers Shaping The Future in October 2012.
In May 2014, Rodarte's short film directed by Todd Cole is awarded the People's Choice Webby Award for Branded Scripted Entertainment.
- 2014 Webby Award People's Choice- Branded Scripted Entertainment- Won
- 2011 Fashion Group International's Star Honoree Award- Won
- 2010 National Art Award from Americans for the Arts- Won
- 2010 Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards- Won
- 2009 United States Artists Fellowships Recipient
- 2009 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year - Won
- 2008 CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear - Won
- 2008 Stella Swiss Textiles Award - Won
- 2006 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award - Won