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Kirsten Dunst, Spike Jonze and Kim Gordon, along with a slew of downtown hipsters, filled the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on Thursday night when Vogue and Nordstrom threw a party to celebrate the new exhibit “Quicktake: Rodarte.” The carved wood space was packed with Rodarte fans who flitted between the second-floor show and the downstairs lobby, where Matt Creed DJed. And few of them seemed to doubt the clothing’s place in a museum. “Their fashion really is art, and they approach it that way,” said Natalie Portman of designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy. “They’re so interested in the most astounding array of topics, and I learn every time I’m around them.”

As Kate stood by, an overwhelmed Laura expressed a more measured take on the fashion as art debate.

This story first appeared in the February 22, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Fashion I don’t think is art, but I think the people that build it and believe in it, they’re artists. When someone knows how to sew, it’s an amazing craft, so I think people who do those things should be celebrated,” said Mulleavy, who was still processing finding her clothes in such an esteemed setting (the Cooper-Hewitt is a Smithsonian Institution). “I mean, it’s pretty shocking: the Smithsonian has the ruby slippers and Lincoln’s hat, so this is a real big deal for Kate and I.”

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