Scan any red carpet during awards season, and you're bound to see a Marchesa frock on show. This is thanks to Brit girl Georgina Chapman, who , along with fellow designer Keren Craig seduced Hollywood with their sensational floor-length gowns and feathered and embellished cocktail dresses. With Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, and even fashion-forward eight-year-olds a fan of her work, Ms Chapman talks about what it's like to dress the A-list...
What has been the biggest event of 2011 for Marchesa?
This year we did a salon style catwalk show for our Spring/Summer collection at the Plaza [hotel]. I tried to keep it as intimate as possible, so the catwalk itself wound around the audience. For me, that was a big moment, deciding to move on from the static presentation format into seeing the dresses move. I really loved it, and I’m going to stick with that format going forward.
What was the inspiration behind that collection?
It was based on a painting by Ilya Repin about an underwater kingdom. I was researching Russian artists on the internet and I came across that artist and this painting [entitled ‘Sadko’] and as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to do a collection on it. It depicts an underwater world, so all the references are from that. There’s a very watery colour palette, from sandy colours to deep, deep hues. The collection has a sort of liquid feel to it, with a lot of sparkling beading, a lot of blues, a lot of floating tulles.
When you’re designing Spring/Summer, are you thinking about what pieces could be good for red carpet events?
No, I’m making dresses that I think are good for the collection. In the nature of what we do, because it’s an eveningwear brand, there’ll always be a gown that would be suitable for that kind of occasion.
ABOVE: Blake Lively and Rachel McAdams in Marchesa
BELOW: Marchesa's gorgeous evening gowns (available at harrods.com)
Who is the Marchesa woman?
I think the Marchesa woman really can be any woman. My main aim is to make women feel beautiful and I don’t think that starts or stops at any age - I think you always want to look your best.
I’ve done trunk shows where I’ve had eight year olds come – these kids are savvy and just want to see what we’re doing. We also had a woman who had just turned 90 and she had bought the same dress Halle Berry wore to the Oscars. To me that really shows that age boundaries have come down in the last few decades, and that women are not afraid to dress how they want, regardless of age. They just want to feel beautiful.
Do you have any top tips for creating a brilliant eveningwear look?
You’ve got to feel good in what you’re wearing. If you’re uncomfortable, it will show - I don’t think it matters what you wear as long as you’re owning it. It doesn’t need to be related to trends, you need to feel beautiful. Who cares what anybody else thinks?
You studied costume design, would you consider returning to the field?
I would love to one day do costume design again. When you’re doing a movie, it’s not just designing a few dresses and walking away - it’s a huge process and a lot of organisation. I suppose from the outside, it just looks like you’ve just added a few outfits but it really is a lot of work. I’d love to maybe do a couple of pieces for a film, but to say I could be the costume designer? I don’t know if that’s something I could do right now.
What is on the horizon for Marchesa?
Right now it’s all about the Oscars and the runway show and our bridal collection as well. We’ve also got our handbags – we’ve recently won an award for them and we are always thinking of new areas to go into with Marchesa.
To read more from Georgina Chapman - including how she felt to dress Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Rene Zellweger - visit The Review magazine on harrods.com
Main picture credit: Rex Features