For the 10th anniversary of their label Marchesa, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig came home. But what a crazy homecoming! They started out a decade ago in London in a studio on Archer Street, a Soho afterthought frequented by hookers and drug dealers. Tonight, they showed in the Banqueting House on Whitehall, an Inigo Jones-designed building of such ludicrously historical provenance that only an erstwhile seat of empire like London could possibly muster up such a location. Imagine what that must have been like for their families. Craig’s grandmother was hotfooting it downtown.
How long is 10 years in fashion? Gareth Pugh and Proenza Schouler, to name just two other fashion entities, are also staring down the barrel of their second decade in business. But Marchesa’s success points to consistency of vision as a key factor in durability. Before the show Chapman claimed, “This was always very much the dream.” Archer Street to Whitehall? It’s the stuff of fairy tales.
So were the clothes tonight. Chapman and Craig offered a rock-‘n’-roll gypsy fantasia. They name-checked Woodstock, but the muddy hippie grunge of that particular watershed seemed less relevant than the supermodel-studded get-togethers of today. Jacquetta Wheeler in an off-the-shoulder, fishtailed gown studded with embroidered flowers was closer to the essence of the collection. You could almost get away with a helicopter into Port Eliot’s summerfest in an outfit like that, if it was a fashion statement you wanted to make. Forget Woodstock, it was Ophelia at Glastonbury that Chapman and Craig were invoking.
And it was that romantic vein that the collection tapped. A sarong in gold lace, one dress embroidered with flowers and trailing vines, another heavy with silk fringe, its neckline also embroidered with flowers, all of it heading toward a climactic froth of pink tulle….There is a small universe of women dreaming about how these dresses could transport them into the elevated stratosphere in which their designers reside. Fairy tales can come true.