Since 2005, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, sisters, have become some of the most celebrated contemporary American designers. Because of their rapid success with their brand, Rodarte, their story has become a point of interest for many.
In 2001, the sisters each earned college degrees from the University of California at Berkeley: Kate's degree was in art history, emphasizing on art in the 19th and 20th centuries; Laura's degree was in literature and the Modern novel. Neither sister had any formal training in fashion design while they were in college.
Kate (the older of the two) and Laura have strikingly similar appearances: dark eyes, pale skin, and glossy, brown hair. What sets them apart are subtle differences: Laura is thinner and has sharper features while Kate has bigger eyes and a rounder face.
After they graduated from Berkeley, the sisters moved back home to their parents' house where they eventually founded Rodarte. They learned sewing techniques from their mother and by the middle of 2004 they had saved enough money to start their company. They continued to live in their parents' house until the middle of 2006, when they moved to a studio apartment in Los Angeles.
Rodarte officially took off in 2005. Their first collection, which consisted of ten pieces, was displayed on the February 3, 2005 cover of Women's Wear Daily. The sisters presented their first complete runway collection in September, 2005 during New York Fashion Week.
Their clothes are described as being ready-to-wear, although the sisters build them with couture-like methods. For example, a yellow chiffon dress that the Mulleavy sisters featured in a fall, 2006 runway show required more than 150 hours to complete.
Since the foundation of Rodarte, the sisters' clothing has appeared in high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and Colette. They have constructed many red carpet dresses worn by celebrities such as Keira Knightly, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon. They have designed costumes for Hollywood movies, such as "Black Swan" in 2010.
In 2010, their design work was featured in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and in 2011 it was featured in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Some of their designs are a part of the permanent collection at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Museum at FIT in New York.