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?