Marchesa's Power Shot of Glamour
September 16, 2010
Originally published in WSJ Heard on the Runway
Filed under: Fashion / New York Fashion Week
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Elva Ramirez: Marchesa Spring 2011 collection review

It's a given that people at fashion shows can put themselves together. But the guests attending Marchesa's presentations tend to go for the extra dose of glamour.

Just before Wednesday's 3:30 showtime at the Chelsea Art Museum, a long line began snaking down 22nd Street as black cars began pulling up.

What looked like New York's entire population of beautiful women, all high heels, soft curls and softly-glinting sequins, stood in line, patiently waiting to be swept past security.

Waiters stood just past the entrance, champagne trays at the ready.

Models stood on small platform stages in vignettes of three or four, allowing guests an up close look at the fine details of feathers, beading and sequins.

This season's dresses played with angles and volume; models wore billows of feathers, sharp folds of fabric or were drenched in beads that seemed to make them extra tall.

Jumpsuits were included among the dresses, from a sheer lace creation to a silky number in a pale pink print that billowed like genie pants and tied with fabric at the ankles.

The ultra-luxury label whips up new versions of goddess dressing each season and tries to strike a balance between innovation, working with the limits of what's recognizably evening-attire and the Marchesa signature. The dripping gold gown that Sandra Bullock wore when she won Best Actress at the Academy Awards was a Marchesa creation.

"It doesn't ever feel like we're constricted," co-designer Keren Craig said of working with high-luxury motifs. "It's always very organic."

Co-designer Georgina Chapman gave birth to her first child, with husband Harvey Weinstein, about two weeks before the show. Both Ms. Chapman and Mr. Weinstein attended (sans bebe), accepting congratulations from well-wishers.

Elva Ramirez: Marchesa Spring 2011 collection

Ms. Craig said that Ms. Chapman's pregnancy prompted the duo to plan ahead and start this collection extra early. "The good thing about having a baby is that you have some warning," Ms. Craig joked. "She had the baby two weeks ago. She's been on the phone ever since and came into fittings. Now, I'm like, 'You need to take a break.'"

The dresses worked their charm even those outside the fashion universe. While waiting in the press line for interviews, a burly camera man began rhapsodizing to celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch about a sculptural blue gown, saying that of all the couture events he's seen in France, Marchesa impressed him the most.

Mr. Bloch, for his part, said that upon seeing the dress, which was hand-painted and adorned with organza petals, he was moved nearly to tears. "I clutched my tie and I welled up," Mr. Bloch said. "You go, 'That's what I'm here for.'"

"I love clothes that sell, I understand - but I want to be moved, I want to be inspired," he said.

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