Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig specialize in sumptuous evening gowns evoking far away places. For their fall 2017 collection, which they debuted at New York Fashion Week, they looked to Imperial China, creating evening gowns dripping in fringe or maribou and ostrich feathers, embroidered with crystal beadwork or floral embellishment, and topped off with velvet ribbon or satin bow detailing.
And in what appears to be a fashion week trend, the duo dismissed the idea that florals for spring are "groundbreaking," as Miranda Priestly archly observed in The Devil Wears Prada, and declared that it's okay to wear flower-dotted gowns for fall. With icebergs breaking off in Antarctica, azaleas blooming in Houston in February, and most of the world (except President Trump) worried about global warming, perhaps they're on to something in a bid for seasonless dressing. (So are designers Lela Rose, Badgley Mischka, Dennis Basso, Libertine, Delpozo, and Coach, all who featured blooming embroidery or prints for fall.)
Many of the Marchesa gowns, which will be available in Houston at Elizabeth Anthony, feature ornate flowers crafted from silk organza or with bugle beaded trickling wisteria floral embroidery or other floral patterns. One billowing princess ball gown with a flowing train is covered in organza flowers while strapless column gowns incorporate floral beaded embroidery or are dotted with coral organza flowers.
The duo's designs are made for the gala goer who wants to make an entrance with an "excess is best" philosophy. Don't be surprised if a look or two from the collection shows up at Sunday's Oscars, where Marchesa has long been a favorite of the Hollywood crowd. (Chapman is married to uber-producer Harvey Weinstein.)
They've already revealed they will be creating a custom Marchesa gown for fashion influencer Olivia Culpo to wear to the Oscars on behalf of Stella Artois's "Buy a Lady a Drink Campaign," which provides clean water for people in the developing world. The gown will incorporate glass beads made from Stella Artois's limited-edition chalices — for each one sold, clean water is delivered to developing countries — and the look will be the first Marchesa gown to ever be made out of glasswear.
Certainly, such an over-the-top gown fits the Marchesa philosophy. But among the gowns that made the most impact in the fall collection is a relatively simple strapless gown with a black velvet bustier and pale ruffled skirt with a thigh-high slit.
Perhaps the duo are discovering that sometimes, simple is best.