A Different Kind of Logic: Rodarte on 3 Women

On Film / Visual Analysis — Jun 11, 2018


K

ate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the fashion brand Rodarte, are known for handmade garments that are both beautiful and outlandish. Raised in a redwood forest in northern California, the two came to their careers not through any previous expertise in fashion but through a shared love of the visual arts. Movies have long been a particular source of inspiration for them, and you can see this in their designs, which range from soft-hued floral creations reminiscent of classic Hollywood to sculptural evocations of gothic horror. In the past decade, the pair have increasingly turned their attention to filmmaking, first with the ornate ballet costumes they designed for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan in 2010, and most recently with their hallucinatory debut feature, Woodshock, which was released last year.

Their eccentric visual sensibility is evident in one of their favorite films, 3 Women, Robert Altman’s 1977 exploration of fluid identities and dream psychology. Set in a California landscape similar to where the Mulleavys grew up, the film follows the twisted relationship between an innocent young nurse (Sissy Spacek) and the coworker she comes to idolize (Shelley Duvall). In the video above, the sisters delve into what makes 3 Women such an endlessly fascinating work, pointing to the film’s depiction of complex female characters and Altman’s innovative approach to color, costumes, and performance.