The latest Arab Fashion Week in Dubai surprised us with two catwalks for the international fashion brand Marchesa. Their gowns are sublime and part of the Red Carpets essentials. Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig are the two masterminds behind this fantasy brand. They shared with us their story, the causes that matter to them and why they open recently a shop at the Dubai Mall.
THE INTERVIEW: MARCHESA
How did you meet?
GC: Keren and I first met when we were students at Chelsea Art College and instantly clicked. We had so much in common and had similar passions for both design and travel.
KC: Georgina and I hit it off the first time we met. She was the coolest looking girl in my class so I was instantly intrigued! We hit it off straight away and share a passion for travel and design. We began talking about having a business together early on in our friendship which is over twenty years now!
How did Marchesa started?
Both: It was on vacation in India in 2003 that we decided we would we would make the perfect design team. We found our particular specialties in design complemented each other and in 2004 we decided to launch Marchesa.
Who was Marchesa Luisa Casati? How did she influence you so much to even select her name for your brand?
Both: Our main inspiration and muse for Marchesa is Marchesa Luisa Casati! She was so daring and dramatic in the way she dressed – an ideal we strive to achieve in all of our collections. The Marchesa aesthetic is always directed at a woman who is confident, elegant and embodies a true sense of identity.
How is your creative process?
GC: It’s so hard to explain the process because it happens quite naturally – something will just come to me and we will further explore it. Together, we begin to build mood boards to help us visualize various elements, from there I will start sketching and draping silhouettes.
KC: As my expertise is in textile design, I focus on creating artwork in beading and paint to complement the collection! We, of course, have an amazingly supportive and creative team who we work closely with to bring the collection to life and help us throughout the entire process.
Where do you find your inspiration?
GC: Inspiration usually strikes at anytime really – often stemming from a piece of art, books, travel and film. I have always been particularly influenced by film, especially since I trained as a costume designer. The transformative effect of costume design is something that I’ve always appreciated and apply to all of our collections.
KC: Of course Marchesa Luisa Casati is a never-ending inspiration for all our collections – we think she would love all the exotic and theatrical elements evident within our designs.
How are the roles within your partnership? Who takes care of what?
GC: Our specialties in design complement each other quite well – which plays a huge part in why we work so well together. My role focuses on conceptualizing the collection designs and silhouettes, whereas Keren’s background in textiles translates to all the embroidery.
KC: While we both play separate roles in the design process, we are very much aligned in design aesthetic, which works in our favor. A great part of our success together is also that we are best friends – we understand and support each other on all fronts!
ALL THOSE RED CARPETS…
How does it work when you are dressing celebrities? What is the process?
GC: The process of working with celebrities always varies. Sometimes she has a very specific silhouette in mind and we start a gown from scratch, while other times we work with an existing dress from our collections.
KC: The end goal is to always make the woman wearing Marchesa feel like the most beautiful version of herself. It’s incredibly rewarding when celebrities choose to wear Marchesa for their red carpet moments and seeing how they bring the design to life and make it their own!
The end goal is to always make the woman wearing Marchesa feel like the most beautiful version of herself.
MARCHESA IN DUBAI
In January, you opened a beautiful standalone boutique in the Fashion Avenue at the Dubai Mall. Why did you choose Dubai between all the cities in the World?
Both: We are excited to be opening our first Marchesa retail store within The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue. Marchesa has such a strong presence in the Middle East and we are excited to have a space where clientele can engage with the brand in a way they haven’t before and experience our brand firsthand.
You are showing your ready to wear and your bridal collection at Arab Fashion Week. Is your Arabic clientele different in any way compared to your USA clientele for example? Do they have special requirements?
Both: All of our collections are designed with the same Marchesa woman in mind, providing beautiful clothing for all of the special moments in her life. More specific to the region, we’ve introduced kaftan styles perfect for Ramadan and we love playing with bold colors and intricate embellishments and embroideries.
FASHION WITH A HEART
Tell us about the Foundation. How did you found out about that reality?
GC: India is a place that I’ve been fascinated with since a young age. My mother’s side of the family lived in India for several generations. I began working with Magic Bus in 2014. It is a non-profit organization that lifts communities in India out of poverty. They help by addressing local issues such as human trafficking, sanitation and continuing education through the power of play.
How is Marchesa helping and how can other people join your efforts?
GC: Recently, I visited the village on Mankhurd. While I was there, I was fortunate to meet with workers in Zari units, attend meetings with community youth leaders. There they talked about issues that face their community. In addition I also partook in a parent meeting. It was such an eye-opening experience. The mothers of the children, part of the organization, speak about the positive impact Magic Bus has on their families. There are many ways that individuals can help. To explore opportunities you can visit magicbususa.org.
CONCERNED ABOUT OTHER CAUSES
Tell us about water.org and your participation with them.
GC: We partnered with Stella Artois and Water.org for their “Buy A Lady A Drink” campaign. The idea was to create a custom dress for Olivia Culpo for the Oscars to drive awareness around the global water crisis.
KC: India is greatly affected by the global water crisis. Also it is where much of our hand-beadwork is done. For us, it was such an honour to work on a project that directly benefits a community so close to our hearts.
You recycled beer glasses into crystal beads and use them on a gorgeous dress. How did the idea came up?
Both: We wanted to use the red carpet as a platform to get this important message across. So we asked ourselves, how can we make a dress for Olivia that is beautiful, Oscar-worthy, and yet still shine a line on this cause?. That really is what sparked our idea to utilize one-of-a-kind glass beads made from limited-edition “Buy A Lady A Drink” Chalices.
ABOUT MARCHESA´S FUTURE PLANS
Marchesa is offering at the moment Ready to wear, Bridal and Notte by Marchesa, right? Do you have more plans to open other lines?
Both: We’ve always envisioned Marchesa as a lifestyle brand. Notte, Bridal and Notte Bridal are categories that give us a unique opportunity to reach a larger audience who desire luxury and romance of the Marchesa brand. Additionally, we have our fragrance and accessory collection which help our woman complete her Marchesa look!