Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection

Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection
On view:
December 17, 2011–February 5, 2012
Ahmanson Building, 3rd Floor

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents the North American debut of RODARTE: Fra Angelico Collection, a promised gift to the museum’s renowned Costume and Textiles Department. The Spring|Summer 2012 couture collection features ten extraordinary gowns by acclaimed American designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, inspired by frescoes painted by the early Italian Renaissance artist, Fra Angelico (c. 1350–1455). The Fra Angelico Collection was unveiled as a site-specific installation at Pitti Imagine in Florence, Italy in June 2011. At LACMA, the Rodarte gowns will be on view in the museum’s Italian Renaissance gallery, surrounded by classic Renaissance artworks.

The ten gowns are the first works by Rodarte to enter the museum’s permanent holdings, and we are pleased to present this outstanding collection,” said Sharon S. Takeda, Senior Curator and Head of the Costume and Textiles Department. "We are so honored that our Fra Angelico Collection from Pitti Immagine in Florence has come to LACMA, and to see it installed amongst the museum's masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance is an incomparable experience for us,” said Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.

Fra Angelico Collection at LACMA

The collection is inspired by Italian art, specifically the Renaissance frescoes in the monastery of San Marco by Fra Angelico in Florence, Italy, as well as the Baroque sculpture, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) in Rome.  At LACMA, Rodarte’s Fra Angelico Collection installation will create a unique and complementary relationship with the Florentine art in LACMA’s collection. Silk fabrics are draped and pleated to define form and texture to the Fra Angelico Collection gowns in colors that can be seen in the surrounding artworks on display in the museum’s Italian Renaissance gallery. One large painting, Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark, and Antoninus (c. 1491-95), by the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany (active c. 1480-1500), serves as an exquisite reference for the installation of the gowns. Appropriately enough, the painting, a gift of the Ahmanson Foundation, was commissioned by the silk weavers’ guild of Florence for their altar in San Marco.

Rodarte’s signature dressmaking techniques and sculptural details can be seen in each gown in the Fra Angelico Collection. Silk fabrics (including chiffon, crepe, gauze, lamé, organza, satin, and taffeta) are draped and manipulated to give form, texture, and tonal variety to the color palette influenced by Fra Angelico’s frescoes. The gowns are customized utilizing a variety of materials such as feathers, SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, sequins, and hand-molded Easter lilies. Hand-forged gold metallic accessories, such as a headpiece, breastplate, and belts informed by elements in Bernini’s sculptures, dramatically complete the look of several gowns.