Get to Know Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman


Photo by Rex Shutterstock

It’s hard not to fall in love with Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. Aside from her outstanding physical beauty and impeccable design talent, Chapman is disarmingly down-to-earth: she laughs heartily, and often, with a fun-loving air that belies her polished elegance. The British-born Chapman, who studied costume design, launched the eveningwear label Marchesa (named after the Italian heiress and style icon Marchesa Luisa Casati) with friend and fellow Brit textile designer Keren Craig in 2004. When Chapman isn’t jet-setting to Ibiza with her husband, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and their two children, she’s in her New York-based atelier, working on art-piece-like gowns dripping in beads, sequins and embroideries that inevitably land on red-carpet starlets such as Jennifer Lopez, Anne Hathaway and Sandra Bullock, to name a few. Here, Chapman, talks about her design inspirations, dressing for the red carpet, and the women who have inspired her.

S/: You were chosen as Moroccanoil’s latest ambassador for its Inspired by Women campaign. Why did you want to be involved?

Georgina Chapman: We’ve been lucky that Moroccanoil has done the hair for all of our runway shows. Upon meeting [founder] Carmen Tal, I instantly fell in love with her. When she proposed the idea of doing this campaign, I was utterly thrilled.

S/: Moroccanoil is also supporting one of your beloved charities as part of this project, The Magic Bus Foundation. Why is this so important to you?

GC: Many of our embroidering partners are based in India, so it made sense for me to give back to the communities who have helped to build my company. The Magic Bus Foundation provides community-based mentors to the children of India and their families, creating a self-sustaining model that is focused on inspiring and empowering the larger community, which is very important to me.

S/: Who are some women who have personally inspired you?

GC: My mother is my greatest inspiration. She is the most intelligent woman I know. She gave up everything up to raise my brother and I, and I know what a sacrifice that was to give up her career. She has always been there for me and always taught me that anything I wanted to do was possible.

marchesa_aw16_s2S/: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

GC: I always wanted to be a designer since I was a young child. I love costume; I remember first going to the Victoria & Albert Museum when I was six and being absorbed by these beautiful costumes.

S/: If we were to look at your moodboard, what would we find?

GC: Everything. We’re an incredibly ethereal, feminine brand and we want to present a powerful woman. We look at the intricacies, the details of flowers, embroideries. There’s a lot of historical references, a lot of paintings, and photography. It’s a real collage of different pieces of life that we respond to on an emotional level.


S/: Your fall collection was inspired by the paintings of John Singer Sargent and you said that the women in your show looked regal and powerful. Is that something you strive for in presenting the “Marchesa woman”?

GC: Our ultimate goal is, when a woman puts on a dress, there’s a transformative process that takes her to a place where she feels incredible and like she can conquer the night. There’s an emotional connection when you put on the right dress that is indefinable. I say this to a lot of women: It’s not just about following trends, it’s really about putting something on, and feeling the chemistry, and if it’s there, go with it. If you look incredible, you’ll own it.

S/: You studied costume design – are there any films you wished you had worked on?

GC: Many. I just love the romantic context of beautiful clothes. You get lost in the story and there’s so much emotion to it. Barry Lyndon is one – it’s just fantastic. Recently, I was trying to see for the umpteenth time, Anthony Minghella’s Madame Butterfly, which is the most beautiful production.

S/: Would you ever work in costume design, perhaps on a film?

GC: I would love to one day. That’s what I studied. I would enjoy doing that!