Co-founder of Marchesa talks about the brand’s tenth anniversary and an upcoming appearance in Palm Beach.
There is no such thing as getting a “canned” interview from Georgina Chapman. The co-founder of the ten-year-old luxury fashion house Marchesa — which she established with Keren Craig in 2004 — was busy, to say the least. (While I planned for our interview, fashion magazines were reporting on the midnight supper honoring Craig and her at the St. Regis, her recent appointment to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and her getting ready for a visit to Palm Beach where the pair will make an appearance and showing at Saks Fifth Avenue.)
But there would be no using quotes provided by her publicists or from a prepared press release — Chapman likes every interview to be original. It’s not surprising — Marchesa’s hallmark is intricate craftsmanship and what Women’s Wear Daily calls “dramatic aesthetic.”
The brand has become a runway favorite with critics and a red-carpet go-to for celebrities. One fan, actress Blake Lively — who chose a one-of-a-kind couture bridal ball gown from Marchesa to wear as she walked down the aisle in 2012 when she married fellow actor Ryan Reynolds — describes why Marchesa is special. “When you see (Georgina’s) beautiful work, you feel like you’re witnessing a craft that doesn’t exist any longer,” says Lively.
Chapman credits this kind of admiration to Craig’s and her respect for their “creative vision” — and that the pair has “never looked to trends to dictate our collections.” She continues: “I have always strived to create pieces that would resonate with our customers — pieces that are timeless and elegant and make women feel their most beautiful, whether it be at a dinner party or a red-carpet premiere.”
Nineteenth-century aristocrat Marchesa Luisa Casati is their brand’s namesake and their muse — “she would call herself a ‘living work of art’ and is someone that Keren and I admired” — and the late Isabella Blow their mentor — “I was lucky enough to meet her and she guided me when I was first starting to design and build a collection; she told us to focus on eveningwear, and we are so happy we did!” Marchesa has expanded its repertoire to include fine jewelry, perfume, a tabletop collection with Lenox, and added their signature beading to Revlon’s nail wraps. Their latest announcement? — a collection of holiday cards with an online stationery boutique, Tiny Prints.
“For our fine jewelry collection, we were inspired by vintage designs that had a timeless appeal and embodied the romance of Marchesa. The tabletop created a challenge to bring out design sensibilities to a genre outside of fashion. With our fragrance, we always felt that fashion and beauty should go hand-in-hand. A great fragrance can have such an impact on the way a woman feels, and we always wanted to create a scent that suited the Marchesa woman.”
Yet, it’s the clothing collection that still takes center stage. She shares her excitement about the Marchesa Notte holiday collection, which is full of fitted mini dresses as well as dramatic full length gowns. “Great options for any holiday fete.”
On Dec. 11, she and Craig will jet out of New York and be happy to greet “the great weather and beautiful greenery” of Palm Beach for their Saks Fifth Avenue Palm Beach appearance. “We’ll be recreating our SS15 runway show for guests, as well as hosting a trunk show the next day.”
The runway show should be quite a treat. In September, Marchesa celebrated its ten-year anniversary on London’s catwalk, showing Spring/Summer 2015 at London fashion week. It is where Marchesa began when the duo met at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London.
“We’ve been very lucky that we have been able to grow Marchesa into the lifestyle brand that it is today.”
— By Michelle F. Solomon