Georgina Chapman is one-half of the duo behind the fashion label Marchesa. She's also married to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, but it's not as if he had anything to do with the fashion house's success over the past few years. He didn't. It was simply the product of "passion and skill" on the part of Chapman and her partner, Keren Craig.
It was good, if coincidental, timing that their gowns, all one-of-a-kind, started making the rounds to Hollywood stylists just as the weekly celebrity magazines exploded into a huge force in fashion. "We saw the red carpets and saw them as an amazing marketing tool," Chapman says, and they'd carry big suitcases back and forth to Los Angeles.
The buzz started when Renee Zellweger wore a red Marchesa dress to a high-wattage premiere, and it's been one star after another, including Rihanna in a laser-cut leather number and Cameron Diaz in a micro-mini modern tuxedo style.
"Celebrities are drawn to Marchesa because the dresses are ultra-feminine and beautifully made. They truly make one feel like a modern princess," says Cindy Weber Cleary, InStyle magazine's fashion director.
Harveyd Weinstein may say he doesn't help his girlfriend, Georgina Chapman, promote her Marchesa fashion line - but that wasn't always the case. When Chapman and partner Keren Craig were first starting out a few years ago, Weinstein arranged a meeting for himself and Chapman in Vogue empress Anna Wintour's office. One source said, "Harvey called a meeting, and the gist of it was that [Wintour] should feature the line and the girls. It was understood that Harvey would help the magazine get covers with actresses he worked with." Marchesa has been featured in Vogue several times. A rep for Vogue said, "Yes, when [Chapman and Craig] were just starting out, Harvey and Georgina came to see Anna to talk and get some advice. They talked about the busi ness, but there was no deal made."
Competitors complain that Marchesa dresses are worn on the red carpet because the stars and their agents, managers and lawyers need to please the powerful Weinstein, who, along with his brother, has just started his own film company. Say the word "Marchesa" and publicists groan.
Given Weinstein's recent fortunes in the film trade and his declining power (and relevance), he can't strong-arm A-list celebs the way he used to in the old days. Then again, it doesn't matter much now that Chapman has established herself and no longer needs to have her husband literally force actresses to wear her clothes. And it's reassuring to hear that Marchesa is doing well. Someone is going to need to pay the bills when Harvey's money runs out.