Mulleavy Sisters Debut First Film at 'Woodshock' Premiere

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From left: Kate Mulleavy, Kirsten Dunst and Laura Mulleavy

The designers-turned-directors screened their new film with stars, fashion fans and a swanky afterparty at Chateau Marmont.

New York Fashion Week may have ended over the weekend, but there was a sequel of sorts in Los Angeles on Monday night when stylish sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy — co-founders of the fashion label Rodarte — rocked looks from their collection at the premiere of their directorial debut, Woodshock.

Similarly clad in head-to-toe Rodarte (in a preview of spring-summer 2018) and accessorized with a baby’s breath floral garland in her hair, the movie’s star, Kirsten Dunst, joined them on the red carpet outside the ArcLight Hollywood. Vogue’s Lisa Love was also on hand to dispel assumptions that the Mulleavys are merely following in the footsteps of designer-turned-director Tom Ford: “I don’t think they follow anyone,” she said of the siblings. “They’re individuals, and they are visionaries.”  

Co-star Steph DuVall made comparisons to another famed directing duo who happen to be related: “I don’t know that I would say they’re the new Coen brothers, but I think they have something to offer that is just as valuable as what the Coen brothers have,” he said of the sisters. “And in a way, even more so, because they’re more conceptual.”

For one thing, they share similarly perfectionist tendencies behind the camera. “They were completely, like, 'Let’s do 54 takes of this scene,'” recalled Susan Traylor, who plays Dunst’s mother in the movie. “But I loved it so much — they’re willing to try things, and I love directors who work that way. They seemed like very sophisticated filmmakers to me.”

For Dunst, Mulleavy’s distinct feminist sensibility was the main appeal of this project. “They’ve always had their own lane artistically,” Dunst told The Hollywood Reporter. “They have such a unique voice, and it’s apparent in this film that we need more female directors. This movie is all about being inside a woman’s head,” she said of the film, which is less of a linear story and more like a dark but fashionable fever dream about the Northern California redwoods, weed and the isolating nature of grief. (As for Dunst’s own directorial aspirations — she had been in talks to helm The Bell Jar starring her fiancé and Fargo co-star Jesse Plemons — the actress said, “It’s not happening now, sadly.”)

Dunst’s relationship with the designers dates back to 2004, when she surprised the sisters by selecting three Rodarte dresses for the Spider-Man 2 press tour. “She was the first actress to wear our clothes,” said Kate. But was Sofia Coppola jealous when the Mulleavys borrowed her longtime muse for something much bigger than a fashion campaign? “No! We love Sofia,” said Kate. “One of the great things about Kirsten is that she’s done work that lives up — years later you look back and she’s in the movies you remember from the time period. So for us, it’s a celebration to work with her.” Added Laura: “Part of what makes Kirsten amazing is her legacy with Sofia, and we’re such fans of it.”

Likewise, they admit to being longtime fans of Ford. “Tom’s such an amazing designer — and filmmaker,” said Kate. “When we were just starting out, he was someone we would look to in terms of admiration for all of his incredible talent, but Laura and I are very free. We didn’t train to be designers. Our career in fashion just went very quickly from the beginning.”

She continued: “People who came to our shows would always say, ‘It’s like a film.’ They would have an emotional connection to them. So the leap was natural, but also Laura and I aren’t afraid of trying new things and for us as creative people, we want to grow. I think we have more and more to say and we’re trying to figure out a new way to say those things.”

Their biggest inspiration, as it turns out, may be Darren Aronofsky — the sisters served as costume designers on 2010's Black Swan and outfitted Natalie Portman in the iconic looks that helped to land her an Oscar. “It was the first time I went onto a film set,” said Kate. “I said, ‘I have to do this.’ I remember thinking that, so in some way, it probably informed getting to where we are now.”          

Following the premiere, which drew a quirky-chic crowd of friends and fans — such as performance artist Miranda July and Rodarte-clad ingenues like Tessa Thompson (Westworld) and Rowan Blanchard (Girl Meets World), as well as the Mulleavys' mom and dad — guests Ubered over to the Chateau Marmont for a late-night snack of mini-burgers and bubbly in Bungalow One. Naturally, Plemons made the chic soiree (the actor opted for jeans and a baseball cap, of course, only because Rodarte has yet to spawn a menswear line) and the party turned into a romantic date night for the couple. Love was obviously in the air for Dunst and her fiance, and as all eyes were on the doting duo, everyone felt the earth move thanks to a 3.6 magnitude quake that struck Los Angeles just before midnight.