Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig Walk Us Through New Contemporary Line Marchesa Voyage

Last night, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig enjoyed the perfect summer evening for a rooftop celebration to launch their Marchesa contemporary off-shoot: Marchesa Voyage. Suitably fancy guests mingled and sipped “light” fruity cocktails atop the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel while browsing displays of the new collection, which officially hits stores on September 1. We chatted with the designers about the new collection, pleaded with them for hints about their upcoming spring show (it half-worked), and pressed them for their thoughts on diversity on the runway.
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Last night, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig enjoyed the perfect summer evening for a rooftop celebration to launch their Marchesa contemporary off-shoot: Marchesa Voyage. Suitably fancy guests mingled and sipped “light” fruity cocktails atop the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel while browsing displays of the new collection, which officially hits stores on September 1. We chatted with the designers about the new collection, pleaded with them for hints about their upcoming spring show (it half-worked), and pressed them for their thoughts on diversity on the runway.
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Last night, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig enjoyed the perfect summer evening for a rooftop celebration to launch their Marchesa contemporary off-shoot: Marchesa Voyage. Suitably fancy guests mingled and sipped “light” fruity cocktails atop the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel while browsing displays of the new collection, which officially hits stores on September 1.

“It’s something Keren and I always wanted to do,” Marchesa co-designer Georgina Chapman shared. “It’s very much a relaxed attitude. It’s got the Marchesa DNA. We’ve always wanted to do a lifestyle brand and this is very natural progression for us.”

“It’s really those pieces that you want to wear during the day,” co-designer Keren Craig added. “When you’re traveling on a plane, whether you’re going to work, whether you’re packing a suitcase to a far off exotic adventure--those everyday pieces that you can also wear day to night.”

“The muse is for Marchesa is always [20th century Italian heiress/socialite] Marchesa Luisa Casati,” said Keren to explain the differences between their two lines. “We always envision and channel her in different places. She’s also the muse for the Voyage line. It’s about her in her palazzo going on an adventure and for the Marchesa line, it’s about being more dressed up going to a fabulous party.”

With price points between $260 and $1,000, Marchesa Voyage isn’t exactly Pearl (Georgina Chapman’s lower-priced collection sold at J.C. Penney), but a close look at the pieces did reveal carefully intricate embroidery work--the colorful floral moto-jacket was a highlight--and pretty expensive-looking sequin and lace panel-detailing on the mini-shift dress worn by Georgina.

“I think this [collection] naturally lends itself toward that price point,” Georgina explained. “This is day clothing. It’s easy clothing. This is where it seemed to fit the best and this was the achievable price point we could get. So we were really excited by that. So you’re going to see a lot of detail, you’re going to see prints that we’ve done in our Marchesa studios. You have lace, you have embroidery. That our partners could achieve that at this price point, that’s really exciting to us.”

The design partners are also in the midst of the pre-New York Fashion Week frenzy. Marchesa will be holding another one of their spectacular runway shows at the New York Public Library. But Georgina and Keren are staying mum on any hints or previews of what to expect from their yet-to-be-seen Fall 2014 collection.

“Glamorous dresses,” teases Georgina.

Um, okay, can you be more specific?

“It’s a very organic process because we have an atelier in the studio” Keren hedges. “So Georgina drapes things up last minute. Things come in, things change.”

They save the model casting for last, too, for when the runway pieces are finished and ready. Which brings us to the hot discussion topic prefacing this Fashion Week: racial diversity--still. How are Georgina and Keren feeling about this and what will they be doing to address the issue?

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“I think we always have a fair amount of diversity in our shows,” Georgina stated.

“We pick the right girl for the right dress,” Keren carefully added. “And, you know, some dresses will suit one person. The model will walk in and that’s, you know. It often ends up a diverse show just because of that reason.”

Just for the record, a look at Style.com shows that for Spring 2013, two African American (including Jourdan Dunn) and three Asians models walked the runway. Fall 2013 counted two African American (including Jourdan again) and two Asian models. So definitely more diverse than some other shows...

While the two may not have their runway collections or model casting set in stone yet, they do know what they’ll be doing to celebrate after Fashion Week--and we’re not sure how the fabulous hard-partying Marchesa Casati would feel about this.

“Being with our families,” Georgina said with a smile.

“Seeing our kids and getting some sleep,” nodded Keren in agreement.

Check out some shots of the party and the Marchesa Voyage line in the slideshow.