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It's Not Easy Being Green

Rodarte were the inspiration for the current Franken-Fashion issue. Here, we have an extended interview with Laura Mulleavy as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot

For the current Dazed October issue, Katie Shillingford delved into the horror-filled world of Rodarte for an interview with Laura Mulleavy, as well as a shoot with Iekeliene Stange painted a suitable shade of green to match the A/W 09 destroyed and patched Rodarte collection, shot by Viviane Sassen. Here is an extended interview with Laura Mulleavy.

Dazed Digital: Perhaps tell me a little about how that love for horror come about?
Laura Mulleavy: Well, we’ve always loved them and I think we realise that it is starting to come out in our work more. When we first graduated from college and we moved home and we were gonna save money and do all these different things, we decided that for like a year we were just gonna watch horror films because it was kind of something that we had never done. Kate had had a pretty extensive vocabulary for film, but it was one of those genres that I knew in passing, I didn’t really know anything about.  So we decided that that was something we needed to uncover more, especially because we were more interested in it and then I think it just stuck, it was something that never went away and I think there are so many things about it that is inspiring. I think that the people that actually make them, they are kind of like outsiders

DD: Yeah definitely, it’s kind of like a cult isn’t it?
Laura Mulleavy: Yeah, it’s like everyone is kind of up against something, there is a lot to prove and at the same time nothing to prove and that makes it an exciting genre. I think what’s interesting about horror films is that you have to in a period, you know in a matter of seconds, have people react to something and that is very difficult. You have to use a visual language and sound and use both, and you create complete fear out of your audience and what's hard about that is most of the time with the film you can feel emotion twice or maybe you’ll cry or maybe you’ll laugh, but with a horror film you have to have complete control over your audience at all times and I think that’s really interesting. The people that create horror are really, are really talented; they create worlds that are so visual that most of the time like if you looked at like film stills from probably like every of your hit favourite horror films you would see how beautiful they are.
They’re almost like art films, if you dissected them scene by scene, and I think that’s what’s most interesting to me and then the use of colour, like I love red, acid green, orange and like eerie blue, there’s just a specific colour world that’s used in horror films.

DD: What do you think are your favourite horror films?
Laura Mulleavy: One of my favourites of all time is probably is Halloween. I think it’s a perfect movie and there’s a film called Bird With the Crystal Plumage and there’s this one movie that takes place in New Orleans called the Beyond and that’s amazing. There’s Black Sunday which is an early film - I think that definitely changed all ideas of horror films its actually one of probable.
I mean there’s a million, I could go on and on all the time. I saw this film Who Could Kill a Child recently and that is one of my favourites now too

DD: Do you think that the girl that you create, the Rodarte girl, do you think that she is  kind of a little piece of the horror heroines from all of these films, do you think that she’s kind of made up of those kind of characters?
Laura Mulleavy: I think that Kate and I don’t design with a specific person in mind. I can think of this outfit we did like our fall 08 collection that was red and black and it was all just hairy, leather jacket and fur. For me that collection was specifically about Japanese horror films and this idea of these girls coming from the ground and being tied down with twine with the hair dangling in their face and just being completely just like this sunken girl that maybe got stuck in a well somewhere and I don’t know if that would translate into everyday life as I see it, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t know maybe I am just creating for you know the one character that survives.

DD: You’re based in LA, how do you feel that has inspired or affected your work?
Laura Mulleavy: LA is like a strange world and I love it – I mean it’s not a place you can come visit and stay in a certain part of town and understand what LA is because everythings hidden. It’s a different culture it’s a car culture so everyone stays in their houses and you don’t necessarily drive around all night or go out - you know there’s a cut off time. You can be like in the city with millions of people and never see anyone on the street. So what’s really interesting is that you don’t see people walking around you just kind of see your community and you see the people that are in your routine.
Everything here is really hidden even though it’s such a large city so it’s really strange and the culture is really interesting because everyone’s here to make it in something and that’s also weird because I guess that’s the history of California - this grand idea of the wild west and of western expansion and like gold mining and I don’t think that mentality ever went away. I grew up in Northern California so what’s strange is there’s definitely the divide between northern and southern California and I just love both of them but I grew up outside of Santa Cruz which is speaking of horror films if you have seen the Lost Boys, where that was filmed.

DD: It’s quite difficult for young designers to take that next step to be an established designer and you have got there. You have a great following, a lot of actresses.  Why do you think there has been a lot of interest from the Hollywood fans?
Laura Mulleavy: I honestly have no idea. I think we have developed personal relationships with certain people and I think that that translates in the clothing because we understand them a little bit more. It’s more about understanding someone and knowing what they like and also having a like-mindedness. It kind of just opened up and we started working with Kirten Dunst and Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman. I just felt like the girls that were interested in our clothing just had something really exciting about them and that they were interested in things outside of fashion and what they were doing and I think it translates. I just feel like anyone who is willing to wear our clothes on the red carpet would be someone you definitely would wanna know in your real life.

DD: If you could pick anyone to be on front row, who would it be?
Laura Mulleavy: Okay alive or dead, fictional or non-fictional, oh my God. For my fictional I will pick Hazel Mote who is like the most perfect literary character ever from Wise Blood which is one of my favourite short stories by Flannery O’Connor. I’d pick Patti Smith as she has the best album cover of all time and she’s incredible and she loves William Blake and for my dead person I would pick William.

DD: For a lot of our fashion shoots we make things, so if you were to make a quick Franken-fashion look out of unwanted household items what would it be?
Laura Mulleavy: I would definitely make it out of platic bags. Black plastic bags and masking tape I would do something out of that, you could wrap the whole body.

DD: What’s been your best Halloween outfit and why?
Laura Mulleavy: Our best one, it was completely unintentional. Everyone from across the city would go to this parade and one year we didn’t dress up, our entire group of friends didn’t dress up, but everyone all night said to us 'I love your costume.' Three people that night, and this is not an exaggeration, thought we had dressed up as the Breakfast Club, so it was only when people automatically knew that we didn’t do it. But I think that’s our best costume. Kate was wearing a denim jacket or something. I had a shorter hair cut that was growing out.
I think our costumes this year are gonna be very good.  We are gonna be two board member people, like Mrs White, Professor Plum, yeah and then go as a group of like six people.

DD: What three words would you use to describe Rodarte?  Or a sentence?
Laura Mulleavy: I would use airy. As everything we make is super-light weight except maybe some gloves, most of our collection last year was leather. I would use ruined. I like everything to feel like it is falling apart. I think we like things to look like they have been used or they are falling apart. I’m always inspired by the paint that’s chipping off a wall or the wall when the house is from like a hundred years ago, like peeling back. Or you know things that seem tattered and I think that is where you get texture; from the idea of something having a life beyond being new. Oh I would use the word personal  as everything we make is definitely coming from a story that we have and every decision we make, there’s a reason. It’s not just 'Oh that colour looks good with that one.' I could give you a million reasons of why we make things in the collection and I think that is really important. It doesn’t have to be something I would wear, I’m not making clothes for me or for anybody.
It’s taking what I know and have collected and the same with Kate and then making that into a story that you want to tell and I think that that is why everything we make, we have a story about.

The full shoot and feature is in the current Dazed October issue.

Here is a film that went behind the scenes of the shoot.

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Photograhy Viviane Sassen
Styling Katie Shillingford
Hair Raphael Salley at Streeters
Make-Up Hirami Veda at Julian Watson Agency
Model Iekeliene Stange at Selecct
Photographic Assistant HUgo Timmermans
Styling Assistant Nelma Kalonji
Make-Up Assistant Nobuko Maekawa
Special thanks to Stephen Ledger Lomas