We are such stuff
as dreams are made on,
and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare (Act 4, scene I)
When I first wrote a review of a collection by Marchesa, I chose a quote from one of Shakespeare’s most meaningful and mature plays (The Tempest), because Prospero’s words seemed to perfectly describe the dream-like quality of the creations by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. After watching the pictures from the spring/summer 2012 collection, I realized I had chosen the best title ever, because this collection has been built around a very precise theme – the sea and sea creatures. If you have read the play by Shakespeare, you may remember that a shipwreck caused by the magician Prospero, duke of Milan, who has been stranded on a deserted island for twelve years by his brother Antonio and now wants to take his revenge.
This is not the first time a Marchesa collection is imbued with a literary reference (see the fall/winter 2011 collection, inspired to Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations), but here literature (or I’d rather say epic literature) is connected to art, and I’ll soon explain why. In the meantime, here is a selection of dresses from the collection, to admire with the main theme in mind.
The first set of dresses I’ve posted are characterized by different shades of grey and blue, which echo the mysterious and silent atmospheres under water, the light piercing the deep darkness and its silver fragmented reflections. An intricate silver and gold embroidery embellishes this dusty grey strapless dress, with short train, an asymmetric organza peplum (a Marchesa trademark) and the split bodice.
Sofia Vergara wore this lovely dress when she attended the Costume Institute Gala on May 7th, 2012: she accessorized it with an impressive set of diamond jewellery by Harry Winston, and kept make-up and hairstyle simple.
Dusty grey is tinged with a touch of lilac in this short number, with tulle skirt, gathered in the middle, with ruffled waist-line and hem. The transparent long-sleeved bodice is embellished by silver bead embroideries, which resemble corals or the tentacles of a jellyfish (a recurring theme of the collection).
Selena Gomez wore this beautiful dress on September 7th, 2012, when she attended the premiere of her latest movie – Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine – at the Toronto International Film Festival. She paired it to gorgeous accessories – a Jimmy Choo Calista Glitter clutch and Sergio Rossi Song sandals. I’m not a fan of messy updos on the red carpet, but I must admit even her hair was flawless.
A very pale shade of blue characterizes the feathers which decorate this lovely dress. They are applied on a sheer fabric, embroidered with an arabesque motif on the bodice. I like the fact that quite long feathers have been chosen, because they emphasize the romantic fluttering of the dress.
Georgina Chapman wore one of her designs – the beautiful lilac feathered dress – when she attended the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala in Cap d’Antibes on May 24th, 2012. I strongly believe she’s the best testimonial for her own brand: she’s gorgeous and perfectly embodies the romantic vibe of her creations. She paired the dress with Christian Louboutin for Marchesa strappy sandals and a Marchesa diamanté clutch.
An ever lighter shade of grey/blue characterizes the dresses above. They are simply breath-taking and totally dream-like: the aetheral quality has been achieved with the use of a silk georgette overlay on a beaded georgette fourreau. The result is amazing: the decorations emerge from layers of sheer fabric, as if they were precious objects lying underwater. The dress on the right, in particular, has a mermaid line (another nod to the aquatic theme).
This is a very dramatic number, in a gorgeous shade of greyish silver blue, amplified by tons of sequins. I must admit it reminds me of an Alexander McQueen dress from Deliverance, his spring/summer 2004 collection, the gold one worn by Karen Elson at the 2011 Costume Institute Gala, because of the threadbare spots in the skirt. It may be a homage to a master of fashion, but in any case the effect is amazing: it beautifully contrasts with the complex ornaments on the hips and with the refined embroideries on the sheer bodice. Moreover, this tattered effect underlines the sea theme (the shipwreck theme, to be precise).
Lea Michele wore a modified version of the dress above at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, pairing it with Jimmy Choo sandals and a stunning set of diamond jewellery. I’m glad her dress was modified: the decorations at the hips in the original model would have made a bit too over the top on a frame like hers.
Classic elegance for this amazing dress, made of cloudy grey chiffon, completely embroidered with gold beads. Here I can totally feel echoes from the Twenties – see the bias cut and the fluttering short sleeves. This is something we’ve never seen before in Marchesa collection and it’s not the only new model. I think this collection is so gorgeous, because the designers have introduced many new shapes and decorative solutions, experimenting like they’ve rarely done before. Maybe the whole lacks drama and impact, if compared to previous collections, but it’s definitely more refined and consistent.
Georgina Chapman herself wore this dress when she attended the state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House on March 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. She looked fabulous! She completed her dress with a Marchesa diamanté clutch and diamond studded jewellery.
Colours are slowly heating up in the collection: the total lack of bright tones is balanced by richer tones of the basic palette, which includes dusty greys and blues, white, silver, gold and pale pink. The “hidden” embroidery technique has been used in this dress, too, even if the result is less peculiar. I like the draped neckline and the asymmetrical skirt with ombré panels.
Chapman and Craig know their customers, and perfectly know how to balance new and old. They have introduced new shapes, but have also included some of their trademark models, too. The silvery dark blue dresses above, for example, are perfect symbols of Marchesa style – both strapless, they are characterized by a complex peplum, tulle inserts, floral embroideries on sheer fabrics.
Andrea Riseborough, the star of W.E., wore an all-black version of the dress on the left at the New York premiere of the movie directed by Madonna on January 23, 2012. I think she looked fabulous: the shape of the dress and the exquisite embroideries emphasized her romantic and dreamy look. She completed the outfit with a Marchesa jewelled clutch, diamond drop earrings and a bracelet, plus black patent pointed pumps.
A “cloud” dress is never missing in Marchesa collections. In this case, the white tulle ballgown has dark blue tulle layers and a bodice of the same colour, topped by a ruffled tulle decoration. I’m not crazy of this dress, but it surely doesn’t fail to impress.
Before moving on with my selection, here is the literary/artistic source of inspiration for most part of the collection: an amazing oil on canvas by the Russian artist Il’ja Efimovic Repin, which presents a suggestive moment from one of the most ancient Russian epics, the story of Sadko and his journey to the underworld kindgom. The story is set in Novgorod, where Sadko, a gusli musician, lives with his wife. He becomes a rich sea merchant thanks to the help of the Sea Tzar, who takes him to his kingdom and offers him a new wife. Thanks to the divine intervention of Saint Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors), Sadko chooses the servant Chernava as his bride; he doesn’t consummate the marriage, otherwise he couldn’t go back to Novgorod. He spends the night lying next to Chernava, and the following day he wakes up by a river in his hometown.
The quality of the lighting in this painting is impressive: the artist beautifully gave the idea that the scene is taking place underwater, with the use of dark green and black in most of the scene, and light colours (yellow and orange, in particular) to literally highlight the Sea Tzar’s daughters, among whom he must choose his wife. Chapman and Craig have taken inspiration from the sea divinities, of course, because Chernava, the servant who will be chosen by Sadko, is wearing a very plain dress (see the traditional touch of the long braided hair). She’s the homely Russian girl, the one who attracts Sadko (he’s looking at her, the last one of the row, physically detached from the rest of the princesses).
The epic of Sadko is not the only source of inspiration of the collection, because there’s another aquatic reference: Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature), an artwork which includes 100 illustrations of sea creatures. The German philosopher, scientist, biologist and artist, who discovered and named thousands of new species and promoted Charles Darwin’s theories, published this series of illustrations between 1899 and 1904. The beautiful illustrations of jellyfish are, in particular, what inspired the designers most, and this can be found in many fringed dresses.
This one is gorgeous, totally in tune with the jellyfish theme. Long silk fringes embellish the shoulders and the skirt of this dress made of embroidered tulle. The all-over light blue embroidery reminds of the sensual shapes of jellyfish and of sea waves.
Blake Lively wore this amazing dress while attending the party celebrating Gossip Girl‘s 100th episode. I’m usually not a fan of Blake on the red carpet – she tends to wear gorgeous outfits which turn into tragic because of tacky details (wrong styling, wrong shoes or tights, most of the time) – but this time she looked really beautiful. She paired the fringed dress to Lorraine Schwartz drop earrings and diamond rings, and to Versace strappy sandals in champagne satin.
The fringes in the two dresses above are made of silk, too, but are thicker than the previous ones; for this reason, the effect is fluffier. The dress on the left combines white satin, embroidered bodice and lace long sleeves, with fringes emphasizing the shoulders; the one on the right presents a fringed skirt with an adorable heart-shaped upper hem.
Both these dresses are amazing! They are completely made of fringes – beaded fringes, paired to satin, in the first case, and silk fringes in the second. My favourite is the first one, even if the satin skirt doesn’t convince me much; the second dress made of beaded fringes would have been perfect. Have I already said I love this tone of grey yet?
Lea Michele has often worn Marchesa dresses on the red carpet. She attended the People’s Choice Awards on January 11th, 2012, and wore the white fringed dress above, pairing it with Jimmy Choo Sierra sandals and a box clutch. I quite like this dress on her, but I would have preferred a different hairstyle and a different lipstick shade. Hot pink lipstick? Really? Disappointing.
A super-refined champagne shade makes these lovely dresses amazing. Sported by two supermodels – Karen Elson and Karolina Kurkova – they represent another nod to the Roaring Twenties and to the flapper style (the first dress, in particular, which mixes silk fringes and beaded fringes). Words fail when it comes to describing the second dress, which is so intricate and beautiful, adorable split neckline included.
Heidi Klum wore the silver fringed beaded dress at the 65th Cannes Film Festival on May 24th, 2012, when she attended the premiere of The Paperboy. She really looked amazing because she brought the dress into life. I love the styling here and the accessories – Christian Louboutin Alta Rita Diams silver strappy sandals and silver fringed earrings.
As I said before, old and new are well balanced in the collection. I’ve focused on the new elements, of course, but here are other two trademark Marchesa models, featuring the famous crinkled chiffon round-cut ruffles.
In this case, the short dress above has an off-shoulder neckline, hips accented by a peplum and a classic tube skirt. Even if this is not my favourite dress, Charlotte Free’s hot pink hair is surely my favourite hairstyle seen on the catwalk.
Karen Elson wore a romantic pale grey/lavender ballgown, with a tulle long skirt and bodice embellished by tulle ruffles and crinkled petals: the effect is really reminiscent of a tropical flower in bloom.
If you know my passion for bright-color hair, you’ll understand why I’ve posted a close-up of Charlotte Free sporting hot pink hair. I think the contrast between such an unusual hair colour and the romantic vibe of the dress she was wearing is just sublime.
A few words about the accessories: Christian Louboutin has designed two models of wedges – Prouesse (elegant mesh t-strap sandals) and Janet (peep-toe booties). They’re very simple if compared to the shoes of the previous collections, but they’re subtly sexy and don’t distract the attention from the outfits.
Just before closing the post, the bags seen on the catwalk are amazing clutch bags, embellished with quilted satin, rhinestone-accented scales (another reference to the sea them), long feathers and a beaded net. They all have the trademark rock crystal clasp, a detail I’ve always loved.
Such a collection, exclusively made of evening dresses, seems to be ready to make its appearance on a red carpet. Who do you think will be the first lucky celebrity to wear one of these beauties? Do you have a favourite piece?