February 15, 2011 New York
Opulence, yes, but decay not as much. For that reason, the first thing you noticed was a touch of deconstruction in draped duchesse dresses with pinked edges that dripped pieces of slightly destroyed silk tulle. But a lace motif was really the most overarching statement here, down to the socks worn with needle-heeled Louboutin Mary Janes. And it's where Chapman and Craig flexed their couturier muscles. For the most part, they didn't use actual lace, instead opting to exquisitely (and expensively) embroider the floral pattern in twinkling crystal, jet, and seed pearls onto tulle. One dress had leather cut into lace, and on another the lace beading was inserted with wire and sat like fantastical metallic flowers on a bodice. Chapman and Craig love the drama of volume, but thankfully they jettisoned their sculptural origami experiments with horsehair. Instead, it was channeled into the goth-y mutton-chop sleeves of a lipstick red trench and black Victorian riding jacket.
For the past couple of seasons, the collection, though beautiful, has seemed to stand still. That's certainly been no deterrent for Marchesa's vast A-list clientele, but it was nice to see new energy today. And while the designers may be sharing the perennial fashion reference of Miss Havisham this week with Prabal Gurung, the sense of darkness and decay lent some welcome bite.