Like clockwork, the Marchesa show premieres at the Chelsea Art Museum on the Wednesday of New York Fashion Week; and, as always, it is a fabulous affair, studded with the biggest names in the industry, celebrities and the city’s most beautiful fashionables.
As I entered through the glass doors and make my way to the gallery level, my breath catches in my throat at the sight of the beautiful, delicate and oh-so-Marchesa dresses that nearly stop me dead in my tracks. Having previously worked at Marchesa, I had some insider’s tips (and even a sneak preview!) as to what to expect, but the finished product is more spectacular than my imagination was able to fathom.
Georgina Chapman, the label’s luminous designer, is nearly impossible to catch up with, spending the night surrounded by photographers, celebrity-guests, and media persons. I managed to squeeze through and give her a quick kiss hello. “So lovely to see you, darling, thank you so much for coming,” she says, making eyes at the camera[s] all the while.
All photos by Mary Alice Stephenson
Nude stockings, carrying hand painted tattoo designs are paired with the signature ostrich feather and the hand-embroidered details one has come to expect from the label. One of my favourite pieces, featuring a new method of construction for Marchesa, is a black- and-white, asymmetrical, tea-length strapless dress with a laser-cut floral pattern, worn with a black, strapless, jewelled bodysuit underneath.
The further into the gallery one goes, the sexier, and more revealing the dresses become. I can’t not help but wonder if this lack of fabric and exposed flesh is a commentary on our current economic state—although, if this were true, I would have anticipated a collection with more cocktail dresses and fewer full-length gowns. Apparently the Marchesa woman will still be attending red-carpet events and black tie parties in the coming season, regardless of what is going on in the financial world.
Blake Lively is standing next to me now, chatting with Chapman’s husband, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. She’s dressed in one of my personal favourite looks from the Spring 09 collection, a pair of lace shorts and a black blazer with hand-sewn feather embroidery. Every inch of her outfit is coordinated, including her amazing manicure, done by celebrity nail stylist (and my personal friend) Elle Gerstein. Note to reader, a touch of silk lace on your nails looks spectacular!
As I continue perusing the presentation, I stop to chat with Ugly Betty’s Becki Newton about the beautiful, gold, short sleeve Marchesa cocktail dress she is wearing. “It is a stand-alone piece,” she raves, “You can just throw it on and you’re done, nothing else needed”.
To my left, Hilary Alexander of The London Telegraph stands in front of a white, ostrich feather, beaded cocktail dress, sketching away in her notebook; I overhear her mumbling something about the tattoo stockings. I don’t need to ask what she thought of the collection; her feelings were are evident in the awe flashing in her eyes as they went move back and forth from dress to sketch.
I spot celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson chatting with the beautiful eight-month pregnant Karolina Kurkova across the room. They are both stunning, Stephenson in a pair of silver metal Naeem Kahan trousers, which she refers to as her, “disco pants,” and Kurkova in a black tuxedo suit.
I catch up with Stephenson after the show to talk about the gems of the evening. “I thought Marchesa Spring was one of their strongest collections yet,” she says. “It felt as if I was at an haute couture presentation, not ready-to-wear. I was wowed by the elegance and attention to detail and technique. These dresses are an editor’s dream!”
I also pick Stephenson’s brain about the big trends for Spring 2010, specifically which ones Marchesa had picked up on. Without missing a beat, Stephenson rattled off her favourites, “abstract ruffles, body ink, colour blocking and colour saturation and draping.”
Stephenson and I seem to share a love for the above-mentioned black and white, laser cut, floral print dress. For her, it stood out as the “would love to shoot” look from the show.
Another love-fest ignites when attention moves to makeup, styled by Talia Shobrook for Nars. The concept is minimalist, skin looks natural and glowing with in nude tones of blush and creamy eye shadows used to highlight the natural beauty of the models. Shobrook used the new Luxor Multiples Stick from Nars to highlight the cheeks and brow, creating a 3D effect. Adding a touch of the avant-garde, are nude-coloured ostrich feathers applied as eyelashes on the outer corner of the models’ eyes.
Shobrook and I meet for a post-show cappuccino to discuss her inspiration. “We went with the idea of couture lashes,” she explains, “doing it [the lashes] subtle, not to overpower, just like the dresses. Georgina also wanted to include feathers as a reference to her inspiration [for the collection], which was Madame Butterfly.”
When asked what her inspiration was in creating the over-all look, she smiles impishly and says, “Marchesa.” The genius behind the label’s makeup since day one, Shobrook focuses on who the Marchesa woman is, using each new collection as her starting point. “I am there to compliment what is already there, it starts with what they produce,” she explains. “The talent is phenomenal; Keren [Craig] and Georgina’s partnership is a match made in heaven, and I feel honoured to be a part of it.”
Craig and Chapman’s ability to draw in and captivate the eye of fashion’s elite is a true testament to their talent and creativity. As each season only seems to get better, it leaves no doubt that the young Marchesa label, is one to keep watching.