Marchesa Spring 2013 Collection

Posted on September 15, 2012


We consider this collection a departure for Marchesa and designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. The Marchesa brand is defined by its exuberance and embellishments, and that’s certainly still likely to be true in light of this collection. But there’s a sense of maturity and even – dare we say it? – restraint to these looks, which were inspired by India in the 1960s, and The Beatles friendship/collaboration with The Maharishi. This is how you do cultural appropriation. A lesser designer would have gone a far more literal route, but these looks truly embody the phrase “inspired by.” There’s no question that these are Indian-inspired, but it never devolves into folk costuming. Oh, sure; a couple of these looks display the Marchesa trait of never saying “enough” when it comes to a design, but for the most part, we found the looks to be incredibly beautiful, respectful of the original culture, and chic. Marchesa’s a force to be reckoned with on the red carpet, so we’re very curious to see how some of these looks are going to be translated for that particular venue.




[Photo Credit: GoRunway]

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  • BazoDee

    I was coming here to type an “of course” -but this surprises me -a little less working and detailing than normal makes some of these pieces fabulous! 

  • VicksieDo

    Gorgeous.  The navy/gold number near the bottom is my fave.

    • G

       I agree with you – it’s just gorgeous… something I’ve never said about a Marchesa gown.

    • kschwarting

      Someone definitely needs to wear that one on the red carpet.

    • you’renotmysupervisor!!

      yes yes yes!  

      chastain will probably wear it and mess it up. grr.  

  • I never thought I would say it about Marchesa, but I love this collection.

    • Clueless_Jock

      Same here. Marchesa was my least favorite designer until now. Ravishing collection.

  • Vickiefantastico

    Marchesa is always romantic and princess-y, but in this case, they’ve toned down the rather Disney effect into something that’s modern yet timeless. I find the collection quite stunning.

  • Sobaika

    I’m sorry, I didn’t like this collection. I still find it terribly overworked and unedited – even if it’s less so when compared to past Marchesa collections – and very literal. There are several gowns at the point where you might as well just wear a sari, except most saris aren’t so artless. There are several that [i]are[/i] lenghas.

    Also I don’t like the idea that this is how one should do cultural appropriation or that it’s even something a designer should shoot for. There was a DKNY collection about Haiti that was actually inspiration worked into the DKNY aesthetic. Or the Gaultier menswear that used turbans. Or even the various Chanel, McQueen, and Gaultier collections that were South Asian inspired. For me, there is a fine line of distinction between those collections and this between and inspiration. Also weird to hear that their basis was another foreigner’s interaction with Indian culture!

    Sorry, rant over. There are quite a few pieces that I like and

    • filmcricket

      I kind of agree, yeah. I find the shorter pieces at the top quite elegant, but the more I scrolled the fussier and more literal the gowns got, and there are still trends here that I can’t stand – like the sheer-over-panties or the mullet hems – plus adding a new/old one: the bared midriff. Also agreed on using more people of colour in the show.

      I will say that I love the rich, saturated colours used here. My favourite gown is the sky blue one in the last row.

      • Lori

        I agree. For these collection posts I always look at the pics first, go back and read what T&Lo wrote and then look at the pics again in light of their comments. On my first look through I was intrigued by the first few things, but by the 3rd row I was thinking, “So they’re doing India this season. Didn’t Chanel just do that?” The farther down I got the less interested I was in the collection. There are some lovely pieces there, but overall it’s not working for me.

        I’m also with you on the issue of trotting out tired trends. Although they did go from sheer over granny panties to sheer over boy shorts/BVDs. Is that progress?

        I’m of 2 minds about the models. On one hand, I always think there should be more POC on the runway. On the other hand, when you’re engaged in cultural appropriation (when did that become a good thing again any way?) does having POC show the clothes just make it worse? The idea of it makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m so white I glow though, so I don’t claim to be the last word on that.

        • Sobaika

          Your point about the models is a good one – for all of the models of South Asian descent used in Chanel’s Paris-Bombay show, it was their first, and as far as I know, last time walking for Chanel. There is something weird about trotting out people of color only when it is politically correct to do so.

          But to me there’s something really audacious about using no more models of color than an average NYFW show, having looks taken from people of color, and using white models to promote them. Representation on the runway is a whole gross can of worms no matter which way you look at it.

      • Personally, I’ve learned to expect/accept a certain amount of fussiness from Marchesa.  It’s a fussy brand but this is nothing compared to some of the absurd crap we usually see.  

        Cultural appropriation/inspiration doesn’t usually bother me unless what is done traipses into caricature or flat out rip-off.  I don’t know enough about Indian fashion from the 60s to make an educated decision on whether or not this collection dives into either, but none of it looks too much like what I see in the stores or on the ladies dressed traditionally, so I don’t have that negative reaction.  Funny though, I’ve wanted to wear full Indian dress for years, but I always felt that it would seem disrespectful.  So I’ve only ever picked up shirts here and there.

        Anywho, the models.  I have a problem with the general issue of models, so unless someone reeeeeeallystands out, I ignore them.

        • SassieCassy

          I’m white lol so. But I had indian neighbors growing up and we were close. this is verrrrry familiar looking. the sequined pants are called churidr i think. someone below in the comments mentioned an anarkali influence which i see too. sari silhouettes are alllll over the place. basically, everything besides the minis and that navy/gold is stuff indians have been wearing for a long time and they didnt even do anything new or actual design (to my pelbian eye!) so yeah.

        • SassieCassy

          I dont think it would be disrespectful if you were at an indian event – i went to a wedding and a few birthday parties and got all dolled up.

          Otherwise it would be like treating it as a costume, you know? And yea that might be weird.

    • Elizabeth Townsend

      Cultural appropriation. Really? Should all Americans stop eating Indian food, too? Or pizza (we appropriated that back in the 40’s or so)? Should South Asians not wear Western clothing? Or can they wear it, as long as it’s not designed by anyone but Westerners? I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but sheesh…

      I think the collection is mostly very pretty. I like appropriating a little of the exuberance of traditional Indian clothing (one of my favorite movies is Bride and Prejudice 🙂

      • Sobaika

        If you think Americans eating Indian food is the same thing, then I have nothing to say. You are not playing devil’s advocate because those are false – very false – equivalencies. Please do so more analyzing and research on what cultural appropriation is and why it can be problematic and get back to me. Thank you.

        • siriuslover

          not to ruin the thread with an off-topic question, Sobaika, but by any chance did you follow PanAm to the end? I did not and am wondering if I should waste some time watching the last few episodes.

    • Dagney

      I am torn.  They are pretty garments, but is anything “designed?”  It looks like they re-worked the sari, and then threw a box of glitter at the whole lot.  

      Marchesa seems to be attracted to odd bits for their “inspiration.”  I think they were the designers who did that weird collection a couple of years back that was based entirely on poor Mexican women walking to work in the dark.  Because…..oppressive poverty is so chic?  

      • BrooklynBomber

        No, that was Rodarte.

        • Dagney

          Thank you for the link.  That whole thing was sooo bizarre….;((

      • Jillian3538

        That was Rodarte.

        • Dagney

          whoops!  I stand corrected. 

      • SassieCassy

        Yup there’s no DESIGN. Nail on head.

    • BrooklynBomber

      Overall, I think you’re right. Given how much I despise Marchesa, I was surprised to actually like some of these. But some are, yes, still too  much a Disneyish idea as opposed to a real influence. To me, the gray “sari” over the lace midriff top and skirt is the one of the most egregious examples. Still, there are a few I like, like the white tenty dress (2nd from last row, far right; and the crazy red multi-layer fringe dress). I also think that overall it’s better on first glance and loses strength with repeated viewings. Some pieces show good use of inspiration and some are way too literal.

      • greyhoundgirl

        I also love the white tenty dress.  It’s both body conscious and free flowing.  Also agree with the “disneyish idea as opposed to real influence.”  In teaching we call this “tourist curriculum”–a little touch of the culture without depth or connection to real people.

      • homespunner

        Also my two favorites. Would love to see the fringe dress walk the red carpet at The Academy Awards next year. But on whom??????

        • BrooklynBomber

          Me!  (Just because.)

      • SassieCassy

        Agreed that its good at first glance and the more you look and think about it the less good it gets.

    • Seanybills

      There are three models of color, one of African and two of East Asian descent. Assuming each model wore two looks (therefore about 15 models), women of color make up 20% of the Marchesa models.  Sure, that’s not representative of the world as a whole, but it’s more diverse than the population of the UK, homeland to Chapman and Craig.

      • anotherkate

        Okay, but did they maybe want to find a model of Indian descent? Maybe? For their India collection? I found it odd not to even have one girl whose heritage is from the very culture the clothes are supposed to celebrate.

      • SassieCassy

        Have you been to London because there are people of color (esp Indians actually) everrrrrywhere. Moreso than NY i thought on my visit. It was kinda cool!

        But like the numbers game is irrelevant here? Because its still a show based on other cultures and they coulda thrown a brown girl a bone for good measure. Thats true for basically every fashion show but here especially.

    • siriuslover

      I agree for many of them, especially the ones in the center, but there are enough that show the “insired by” without being so literal that I remain intrigued.

    • SassieCassy

      Cosign everrrryyyything.

  • BuffaloBarbara

    Some of these are really quite beautiful.  I especially love the blue and gold dress in the second-to-last row.

  • Ben

    Some really beautiful dresses where I totally see what TLo are saying, combined with a lot of ugly. The fourth-to-last dress looks like a (beautifully embellished) bedsheet, the dresses in the fourth row down look horribly overworked and the look in the middle of the fifth row, the frilly grey crop top that looks like it is made out of material for an old sofa and the granny pants under a long sheer skirt, is one of the most hideous and unappealing looks I have seen on a runway.

    • I was going to come and say the same thing about that look on the 5th row – it’s not belly-top, it’s a shiny, sleeved, be-ruffled belly-top, over what might be a pair of silver shorts overlaid with half a bolt of black tulle. That might be my new definition for tacky. 

      There are some surprisingly pretty dresses here, but I do almost wish they’d done proper saris in some of the cases and others I wish they’d burned. 

  • quiltrx

    I’m usually in the minority that like Marchesa anyway, but I REALLY like this collection!  A couple of the pieces really ARE literal, though, and those are the ones I like least.

    My favorites are the pink/white 3rd row, maroon/gold 6th center, and the blues in the last 2 rows.  And I can already see Milla Jovovich in 1st row center!

  • Oh wow! I want to see Cathy Cambridge in some of these, please.

    • Miss_Magpie

      That blue number in the least row would suit her to a T!

    • Valdri8

      Oh my gosh! Yes, yes, yes please.

  • MilaXX

    Next thing you know I’ll be liking Stella McCartney. I only really dislike one dress and that the gold/burgundy one on the center. Mind you  I hope only the 20 somethings dare to wear the midriff baring looks, but nonetheless this is a pretty collection.

  • Ooooh, that dark blue gown with the gold embroidery, second row from the bottom, is gorgeous.

    I don’t usually like Marchesa as she is of the more is more school of design, but most of these are really lovely. 

  • I got a major McQueen vibe from the whole thing. Especially from the 6th row centre.  

    • SassieCassy

      Ive been getting a Mcqueen vibe from Marchesa for agggeessss. I get that there both british so maybe the influence is felt more closely but i think Marchesa themes are always ripoffs to be honest

  • I can has all of this, please?
    I went to an Indian wedding this summer and I wish I’d had more Indian inspired dresses to wear – saris basically require a fashion doctorate to master, and I didn’t have a lot of time to look into the other options. Snaps up to the Indian women; every time someone new walked in I clutched my boyfriend and gasped out, “FABULOUS.” Such beautiful clothing. 

    • SassieCassy

      GIRL it takes a lot of grace to wear a sari (i tried once and was tripping everywhere) but if you get another chance go for a churidr or lengha.

  • l_c_ann

    Someone got a really good deal on handwork done in the far east. 

    Add me to the growing fandom of the blue with gold embroidery.

  • j_anson

    These are really pretty – the middle one in the sixth row (dark red layered sheers) is just stunning (actually a lot of my favorites are the ones using sheers… weird). I’m not sure it feels particularly fresh to me, though.

  • jilly_d

    LUV. Especially the eggplant number.

  • j_anson

    Also, fourth row, middle: Look, it’s Indian Wonder Woman! Which would be awesome.

  • Laylalola

    What, no giant pink hibiscus????

  • alyce1213

    This is better than usual — some of them are beautiful and show a level of restraint not usually present in Marchesa (which I admittedly HATE).  But to me, much of it goes the typical route of embellishments that are not organic, that seem like random crap fell from the sky and landed on a dress. 
    I have mixed feelings about the level of inspiration vs misappropriation going on here, too.

    • SassieCassy

      inspiration vs misappropriation! yes theres a major difference.

  • petalfrog

    There are at least three here I’d love to see on the red carpet — Pink in the third row, red w/fringe in the 5th row, and that gorgeous red and gold underneath. I think for the first time I am excited to see Marchesa during awards season. Many of these are quite gorgeous.

  • God, so beautiful! And yes, I completely see the Beatles/Maharishi connection.  I really love this a lot!

  • Call me crazy, but I’d like to see Angie in the 3rd row 3rd pic and/or 4th row 3rd pic.  I think she could rock both of those.  I know she wouldn’t do it, but I’d like to see her try something new. 

  • MissAnnieRN

    I like some of these quite a lot – which surprises me!  The pink frock with the short sleeves and asymmetric hem and the last blue beaded gown are my favorites.  The jewel encrusted leggings or skinny pants are also quite fabulous on their own.  The two-piece white midriff-bearing one screams Blake Lively, no?  Though she tends to stick to British designers, with the occasional deviation to designers from previous British colonies, I can see the blue beaded gown being something Mrs. Cambridge might wear on tour.

  • marilyn


  • I love the orange one in the center of the 3rd row, the hot pink to the right of it, and the two brocades on either end of row 4.  All of the blue looks –  1 each in rows 7, 8 , 9 and 10 are gorgeous!

  • Ooh, this is lovely! That first dress is gorgeous and the red and gold one further down made me gasp. Oh, how I covet. I love the rich colors of traditional Indian clothes and I think sari-style necklines are very pretty and flattering. I’m surprised they’re not used more in western fashion. 

  • Third row, the pink dress on the right, and the blue dress in the middle at the bottom. You can ship those straight to my closet. 

  • for some reason, i can see diane kruger wearing nearly all of these pieces and getting a WERQ. i also can’t wait to see kirsten dunst wear the little yellow pants outfit on the top left.

  • Have all the red ones wrapped and shipped to me.

  • The last five gowns are really stunning, particularly that blue embroidered one.  Wow, Marchesa, I didn’t know you had that in you. 

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Very, very few of these dresses would translate well into the red carpet, in my opinion. It’s a nice collection in concept, mainly.

  • Super_Red

    wow– overall I adore this!  There was only one I outright hated (the pnk dress with the huge white poof at the bottom, but I hate mermaid dresses like that as a rule) but overall this was lovely. The colors were fabulous! Especially adore row 7 left, row 8 right, and the bottom row center. (and it was really hard to pick my top three)

    I enjoyed marchesa’s last collection more than I expected to, but this is just stunning all the way around.

  • Valdri8

    Generally not a Marchesa fan at all, but these are stunning. I hope to see some on the red carpet soon.

  • ChristinaRi

    I think of Natalie Portman in almost all of these dresses.   It’s weird.

    Except for the bottom 6.  There I can see her only in the blue scooped necked one, and that’s a bit wrong for her.

    • alyce1213

      Not weird at all, this is definitely her look.  And the models all have Natalie Portman hair, which helps the visualization.

  • understateddiva

    What does Marchesa have against a straight hem?  Some of these dresses are so elegant, but then it looks like your hem is caught in your panties.  Angelina’s Leg will be excited, though.

  • gabbilevy

    I’m surprised at how much I like a lot of these. Some of them get a little too close to costuming, but the I love the colors and the fabrics. 

  • Wow! Not normally a fan, but I’m digging this collection.

  • BrooklynBomber

    This is hard for me, as you can imagine. [sob] I like some of them. But some are too literal; literal + sleazy, which is not a good combination. Yet [sob] some are lovely. And the red Cat in the Hat dress with the layers of fringe is even kind of fabulous. And now I have to go lie down.

  • joything

    4th row, the Right and Left-hand sari-wraps, and 9th row, center, the blue gown – *gasp* *die*

  • ccm800

    there’ restraint and then there is Marchesa restraint. I dunno. Really limitted themselves to a certain gal with all this belly baring. I wonder which preggers startle will show up on a cover belly out.

    • meowing

      Saw a young girl today wearing a choli-ish shirt with low-slung jeans, and she had much too much belly, jiggeling along as she walked.  Just OUT.  I’ve been to India maybe 8 times, and I’m torn on this collection–some is too literal, much is too much skin, some is just too embellished.  Guess I’m not a fan.

  • Synnamin

    I like these a lot more than I was expecting. Does anyone else see that first red and gold dress (4th row down, center) is made for Lynda Carter?

  • rougeort

    I think this collection is definitely gorgeous but these pieces are going to be near impossible for most celebs to pull off because of their complex intricacy. I don’t really know about this one….

  • …holy shit I like something by Mar-CHEESE-Ah. Not normally my wheelhouse, but the pink sari-inspired mini is just gorgeous. 

  • Candigirl1968

    Marchesa has found a new way to make an overwrought dress.  These don’t feel like the sartorial equivalent of a wedding cake, so I guess that is progress.  Some of these seem to be a bit too literal in their Indian references. 
    In their own way, these are typical Marchesa:  pretty, but a bit much. 

  • bitterk

    I like this direction for her.   I especially like the red tiered dress and the deep pink dress on the end. 

  • I’d like to play dress up with a few of these looks.

  • kikisayshi

    I am SO in love with all these colors.


  • I think I can spot a few influences:

    Bengali traditional sari: 

    Kasavu sari: 


    Lehenga choli :

  • snarkykitten

    These would make some fabulous wedding gowns.

  • Daenyx

    I think this might be my favorite Marchesa collection I’ve seen.  It certainly follows the brand aesthetic, but it’s a lot more interesting.  I especially love the red and gold gown near the center (the one with sleeves, not the strapless).  

  • Verascity

    Oh, wow. I don’t love the stomach-baring ones, but the gowns are stunning.

  • I want to see Fan Bing Bing in the red dress in the sixth row.

  • lucasuk82

    I was playing celebrity stylist – Michelle Williams in the fringed red and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the “nude” blue one shoulder, Gwennie in any of the midriff baring pieces.  I would love to see the orange with the waist detail on the red carpet, simplified (read, lose the vagina portieres) and styled in a ’30s glam way.

  • siriuslover

    The first look is my favorite. I also love the blue one on the bottom center. Some are a bit OTT

  • CozyCat

    Only the first row and a few other pieces look inspired by the 60s to me.  In fact, my reaction to the first few looks was “Bond girl in the Sean Connery era” (and I mean that in a good way).

  • These are beautiful. 

  • Lea Michele can’t get her “of course” on in these outfits, thank god.

  • lizajane1776

    Second row, middle really stands out for me. They are all gorgeous.

  • I love nearly every dress here other than the ones with the belly tops. The blue organza dress with the gold slip is particularly fab. As is the blue dress is the middle of the second to last row and that white dress on the bottom left. I’d mace people left and right to get my hands on it. 

  • omg_dora

    My first impression was “pretty!” but then I looked more closely. These clothes are very, very close to traditional Indian costumes (too close, to me), so they have the beautiful colors and trims and some of the fabulous shapes — but wherever they try to veer off the source, they do so tastelessly and crassly. If I wore any of this, I’d be embarrassed at what could be seen as tasteless cultural appropriation on the one hand, and on the other hand I’d be wishing I wore an actual sari because that would be more elegant and flattering.

    I was reminded of Meghan’s Codfish Ball dress on Mad Men — this, to me, is a dress that’s inspired by saris the right way. It has the fabulous color, the flattering choli-ish top, and the drapey silk skirt, but worked into a tasteful contemporary (that is, 1960s) look. And no freaking belly showing.

  • save_the_hobbit

    I can’t help but love Marchesa, even when they’re doing the expected. I love lace, beading, taffeta…I just love really girly clothes. This collection was actually quite different, but I still loved it. That short white one with the flow-y sleeves (while totally expected marchesa) is beautiful.

  • mhleta

    Post-colonialism at work here. Beaufitful!

  • Zippypie

    I love so many of these designs.  I haven’t been a fan of Marchesa, but this collection is pretty damn awesome.

  • Blondage

    *mental orgasm*

  • I so love everything about this entire collection that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love the grey dress in the 8th row, as well as the red and white one at the very top. And the white over the gold pants/leggings in the second row is gorgeous too. This is one of the few collections where there isn’t a single piece that I DISlike. Sure, some I like more than others, but I wouldn’t turn ANY of these down if someone were to buy it for me. 🙂 It also helps that India/Indian clothing has been my favorite aesthetic for as long as I can remember.

  • Not a big Marquesa fan, but I love the color story on the collection.  And the third dress in the 9th row?  I would so get married in that gorgeous thing.

  • Dawnnewday

    These are so pretty. They are princess dresses with a slim silhouette rather than a cupcake shape. The fabrics are luxe and floaty! Really, what’s not to love?

  • Joyce VG


  • ri_dic

    Some really pretty pieces here. Marchesa should pay attention to the Coco Chanel rule: take away one accessory/detail before leaving the house.

  • guest2visits

    I think so much of this is gorgeous, it would be easier to pick out the few that I don’t like; the ones with bare midriffs, and the
    one with heavy red and gold (center, 4th row).
    I love the embellishments (beadwork, emroidery, satiny strips of ribbon).  So maybe it’s just another type of princess dress;
    I don’t care, – beautiful fabrics, beautiful silhouettes. (And much classsier than see-thru skirts over granny panties).
    My favorite is the pale gold dress, last in the 6th row.  I also love the hot pink dress, 3rd row – and all the gowns, last row.

  • This is really beautiful.  That makes me very happy because we know our celebrities love them some Marchesa, but boy howdy am I sick of butt ruffles and shower poofs.  I want that opening dress and the third look on the second row.  If I was ever going to get married, I’d wear the first look on the sixth row.  Stunning, the lot of them.

  • Wow, most of these are really stunning.  I can easily see them on the red carpet come awards season.  The red and white gown you chose for the lead photo is truly gorgeous.

  • I’m expecting to see that blue gown in the last row a lot, but probably in black or white. I’m wondering who will be brave enough to go for the patterns, though; I’m quite looking forward to it.

  • SassieCassy

    TLo dont you think thats some poor word choice? As far as I know cultural appropriation has 100% negative connotation

  • SassieCassy

    I like the collection overall but thats because I like indian clothes lol. this is nothing new and kinda ott. its basically what indian designers have been doing forever. did georgina just see lakme fashion week or something?

  • SassieCassy

    Yesssss such an anarkali reference in the cuts.

    Hehe Its my favorite ‘style’ from india.

  • afabulous50

    6th from the top  – middle gown is a stunner.  Love this collection – wish I had the bucks and the figure for even one of them.

  • In_Stitches

    Most of it is all just a bit too literal for me and for the carpet.  Remove some of the embroidery and I think we might see a lot of these looks, well, everywhere per usual. 

  • Call me Bee

    Wow–lots of pretty here.  But also lots of way-too-literal-India as well.  With a lot of these, I’m thinking, well–why not just wear an authenic sari…? 
    But–I do love the blue in the middle last row.  I could wear that anywhere anytime. 

  • PinkLemon

    their best collection yet.

  • HobbitGirl

    The red and gold dress in the middle of the fourth row just screams “I AM IRON MAN” to me.

  • momogus


  • STUNNING. LOVE the worked leggings under that long white tunic/dress. 

  • oohsparkley!

    I really love the red and gold gowns in the middle of the 4th and 6th sets and the hot pink one too.  Of course the ones that will catch on, will be the belly baring ones. I’m just jealous, my first baby left my belly button destroyed so I haven’t been able to bare my stomach since I was 20. Also to be a pearl clutcher, bellies on the red carpet should be a no.