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Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy founded their handcraft-luxe label in their parents’ Pasadena guest house in 2005, and it has since grown into a cult favorite with the art, fashion and Hollywood crowds. Their intricate — and expensive creations — have been worn on the red carpet by Katy Perry, Ruth Negga, Kirsten Dunst, Dakota Fanning, Mellody Hobson, former first lady Michelle Obama and many more.
For their first foray into handbags, new American designers the Mulleavys have teamed with iconic American brand Coach, which was founded in 1941. Coach is the rare fashion success story at the moment, having been reimagined over the past three and a half years by designer Stuart Vevers with plenty of nods to the West in his collections along the way, from references to Route 66 on the runway, to drawings by L.A.-based illustrator Gary Baseman on menswear. Coach has been on an upward trajectory in recent months, opening an impressive new New York flagship, naming Selena Gomez as its new face and closing in on a deal to acquire Kate Spade.
The Coach x Rodarte collection of ready-to-wear and bags, crafted in Coach’s original glove-tanned leather, includes intricately appliqued pouches, saddle bags, biker jackets and more that pack a lot of style punch for the price, taking inspiration from Rodarte’s lush romantic runway collection details. Other pieces feature images of bags with the cheeky slogan ‘This is a Coach Bag’ — a design element inspired by the brand’s 1970s advertisements. Totes bearing the archival ads retail for $650, while embellished leather bags are $295 to $1,900. There are also leather mini dresses, intarsia sweaters, sweatshirts and tees.
The collection was created by the Mulleavys and Vevers over many hours (and cappuccinos) in his Chateau Marmont hotel room.
“There was something quite intimate about suitcases on the floor and vintage samples and swatches everywhere,” Vevers said Thursday in L.A.. “We never had any references except Coach and Rodarte. It was about the connection and the clash of these two worlds.”
“Our working process was just to hang out!” added Laura Mulleavy, noting that the three have become friends.
“We’re always using sequins in our collections, even sometimes when you can’t tell they are sequins,” said Kate Mulleavy. “It was taking things from our hand and translating them through a Coach lens. At the end, we came up with something really cool.”
The designers will celebrate with friends Thursday night at Musso & Frank Grill, another shared favorite and a Hollywood classic.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek