Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

I’m sure the best playwright of all times, William Shakespeare, will forgive me: I have borrowed a famous verse from his magnificent play The Tempest and applied it to a completely different field, that is fashion. To be precise, I have applied the quote in an uncorrect way, because the verse, uttered by Prospero, hints at the transient state of human lives, which are destined to dissolve into nothing, just like dreams. On the contrary, I have used it to refer to the dream-like quality of Marchesa 2010 spring/summer collection, which include the most amazing and romantic dresses I’ve seen in a while.

Before commenting the outfits, just a word on the setting: the collection was presented, as usual, at the Chelsea Art Museum, and the models, like modern statues or mannequins, stood on pedestals. I am in love with this presentation, because it’s much more effective than a runway. Marchesa dresses are far from being ordinary, so they deserve a special display. According to the fascinating Georgina Chapman, the collection was inspired by Madama Butterfly (and by Japanese culture, I add), but some staples of her style – ruffled tulle, embroideries, dusty colours and feathers – can be found as well.

I’ve tried to find some leit-motifs in the collection, so here they are.


Black lace inserts, a boned bodice and champagne-coloured chiffon for these lovely dresses, one long and one short. The short one has got a ruffled skirt decorated by horsehair.


Elaborate obi-like belts for these outfits. The first is a dress with bell sleeves, made of hand-painted white silk; the second is made of a short embroidered jacket with a fantastic bow belt, paired to simple shorts. The reference to Japanese culture is clear, since the obi is the traditional sash worn on kimonos and yukatas.


Tulle and gold embroideries are the themes which both dresses have in common. The first seems to come out of a fairy-tale book: the skirt is a cloud of white tulle, while the bodice is decorated by gold embroideries and stiff ruffles. The second is a column dress, all embroidered in gold, with stiff ruffles on the bodice and on one shoulder.


In Marchesa’s collections short dresses are not common, but the designers always try to include one or two. This one is amazing: I love the pale aqua colour of the chiffon bands and the gold embroideries.


Nude tulle inserts distinguish these dresses. The first has the same colour as the short one: the bodice is made of embroidered lace, while the skirt is ruffled and pleated, so as to resemble sea foam. The second is made of lilac chiffon and is embroidered with a wisteria motif. Wisteria floribunda (the common wisteria) is a Japanese woody flowering branch, so this is another connection to Japanese culture.


Wisterias are embroidered in white and in lilac on these dresses. One is made of pale lilac silk, is strapless and has a short train, while the other is made of black silk with a tulle overlay, and has a single shoulder topped by a bow.


The traditional Japanese art of paper folding – origami – is surely the primary inspiration behind the white silk decorations on these black dresses.


This dress is peculiar because it combines a Grecian-like quality (the draped skirt), so Marchesa, to the origami art (the multiple fabric decorations on the shoulder).


Chrysantemums have lots of meanings and symbols in Japanese culture, so it’s not a case we find them in embroidery form in this collection. The contrast of black and white is amplified by the floral embroidery. Both dresses also present the theme of the flat ribbon on the bodice.


Tulle long sleeves are the common element for these dresses. The first is embroidered with white chrysantemums on black tulle, the second is all embroidered in metallic gold beads.


I love these dresses! They both have an intricate floral embroidery on tulle bodices and ruffled skirts. The first is truly a work of art: the ruffled long skirt blooms like an exotic flower and is reminiscent of similar effects seen in Giambattista Valli and Hussein Chalayan collections. The second dress is short and has feathers applied on the shoulders and on the skirt.


Kirie is the Japanese art of paper cutting and has probably inspired Marchesa designers for this dramatic dress. The long skirt beautifully ends with stiff folds and is decorated by cut roses; the same decoration is on the bodice. This piece is so precious and original, I wonder who will be the first lucky celebrity to sport it on the red carpet.


While the rest of the collection is all about neutrals, these two dresses are a nice pop of bright fuchsia. The second one has the themes of flat ribbons and folds.


Folded organza ribbons are the incredible decorations for this dream-like dress, whose skirt is made of flat ruffles. I love the pale pink colour, utterly chic.


The uniqueness of the collection was completed by accordingly unique shoes, all creations by Christian Louboutin. We all know the French designer has always worked with Craig and Chapman, so it’s great to see more red-soled shoes here. I’ve always been a fan of Louboutin shoes, but I have to admit this time he has surpassed himself. Most of the shoes have the same theme of the dresses – see the ruffles on the fuchsia sandals, or the embroideries and the flowers on the fuchsia and dove grey satin peep-toe pumps.


When I first saw these booties, my heart stopped. Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous? The overall shape reminds me of the Bridget Strass style, but these are somehow plainer and more sexy. Several versions of the same peep-toe platform booties have been presented – in black or white patent leather, in white snake-like leather, with black or white ankle ribbons. They are perfect if paired to the stunning hand-painted stockings seen on the models.


The gorgeous Olivia Wilde was the first lucky celebrity to wear one of these dresses on the red carpet. She chose the stunning “sea foam” dress to step on the red carpet for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, on 20th September 2009. She is so beautiful and this dress gracefully enhances her beauty.


The view of the dress from behind is breathless. I love how the back is completely naked (thanks to an insert of nude tulle), without being tacky. Olivia completed her outfit with simple hairstyle and make-up, diamond earrings and a Marchesa diamantè clutch (from the upcoming bag collection).

It’s hard for me to choose one favourite outfit, but if I had to, I would choose the dress with the exotic-flower ruffled skirt, so romantic and dramatic! What about you?





  1. I agree. I also like the short fuchsia one.

    I often visit your website. I used to read your old site too. Congrats and keep up the good work!

  2. I will patiently wait for the cheapo knockoffs (which I doubt will be ever made :-D) of the first Obi-belted dress and the dress with the kirie cuttings. These two really took my breath away. Oh, I’d love to see them on some really beautiful celebrity, and not one of those spoilt brats that can make a gorgeous dress look like they bought it from Zara…

  3. the short feathered white one is simply amazing…I dream of a red carpet with a dress like that and a pair of Loubo!
    You’re so inspiring, as I usually live of dreams 😉

  4. Allora, ci sono pezzi che mi piacciono e pezzi che mi piacciono meno. Trovo che collezioni passate fossero più riuscite: questa la trovo meno in stile col marchio per certi versi. Davvero molto riusciti sono i due pezzi fucsia, i secondi due con le giacche kimono e l’abito verde lungo con scollatura abissale asimmetrica. Le asimmetrie a volte sono un po’ “cacofoniche” e la contaminazione con altre “casate” eccessive (Versace, Eliee Saab). Quello che mi piaceva molto delle precedenti collezioni era la “portabilità”, trovo fossero abiti molto femminili nell’accezione corporea del termine (non per niente J.lo con le sue curve ci andava a nozze), questi li trovo un po’ più rivolti verso modelli femminili nuovamente un po’ anoressici.

    1. Sì, sono d’accordo con te. Ho notato la mancanza quasi assoluta dei famosi abiti-peplo, quelli con il punto-vita non segnato e drappeggi a go-go, per capirci, il che è un peccato perchè erano portabili anche da chi non porta una 38. Al contrario, certi pezzi di questa collezione non ce li vedo proprio addosso ad una come Jennifer Lopez.

  5. Marchesa rocks! E’ imbattibile per gli abiti da tappeto rosso, e questa collezione e’ fantasmagorica!

    Un’osservazione sulla portabilita’ di questi abiti: concordo con voi che sia un peccato che non siano stati inclusi pezzi ‘floaty’ con la vita non segnata, o solo accennata. Ed e’ verissimo che tutti questi “ruffle”, origami e ghirigori vari, pur mozzafiato, non lusingano il corpo di una curvosa. PERO’ l’accento sul punto vita slancia la figura, soprattutto se il busto e’ sorretto da un corsetto impalcatura, come molti degli abiti presentati. In piu’ qui, al contrario di altri stilisti (vedi Valentino, Monique Lhuillier, etc.), le balze e increspature sono bilanciate, ossia una parte della silhoutte (che siano le gambe, il busto o i fianchi) viene sempre potenziata.

    Tieni d’occhio il mio blog per il post sulla bridal fashion, e capirai che intendo… ; )

    A me sembra che Marchesa questa volta abbia seguito il trend attuale, in risposta alla recessione economica: gli abiti invece che accorciarsi si fanno piu’ strutturati, e il taglio sartoriale assume un’importanza cruciale a significare che il capo, quando fatto con cura, non e’ una frivolezza stagionale ma un investimento duraturo — non importa se poi un abito da sera non puo’ essere indossato piu’ di una volta… Ah.

    Amica x

    1. Sono d’accordo con te, ma in parte. Non penso che l’ultima collezione comprenda abiti più strutturati e complessi in risposta alla recessione economica, perchè penso che si tratti della naturale evoluzione dello stile del marchio. Craig e Chapman sono partite puntando tutto sulla semplicità degli abiti-peplo e sulla ricercatezza dei dettagli, ma ora che il loro marchio e il loro stile sono riconosciuti e apprezzati, penso si siano volute spingere oltre, sapendo perfettamente di avere una clientela che accetterà con entusiasmo questa nuova collezione.

  6. Ciao Super,
    Two things. (One) I just saw Heidi Klum at the Emmy Awards, she was wearing a Marchesa gown (especially made for her, I think), and she was gorgeous. (Two) Stephen Moyer is now blond??!?!?

    1. I’ve just seen Heidi Klum at the Emmys. God, she’s gorgeous and she’s about to give birth to another baby! Her dress is actually from the Resort 2010 collection, but it has been modified for her.
      I’ve also seen Stephen Moyer 😦 His new hair colour is hideous 😦 Too bad Anna wasn’t among the guests at the Emmys and too bad none of the “True Blood” cast received a nomination.

  7. I know! I was waiting to see Anna too. But, I got the little story about the engagement and about ow Stephen did it all behind the scenes. 🙂

    Speaking of Emmys, my personal Eeeeewwww goes to the yellow Prom screaming dress worn by Melora Hardin (Jan in The Office).

    1. I hate yellow dresses on the red carpet, Melora’s is no exception.
      As for Paquin/Moyer…what can I say? I love that couple!!!

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