You can always expect the drama to be turned up at a Marchesa show and this Fall 2016 collection is right on cue. Inspired by the royal gardens at Highgrove House and the work of Edwardian society artist John Singer Sargent, each of these beauties appear to be a garden rose plucked at the height of beauty to be presented with regal pose to the courts. Marchesa has reminded me that we are all queens of our worlds, and though the tulle, feathers and organza is soft, our confidence is strong…
I try to spend my life photographing beauty. It is what brings me the greatest joy and to that which I want cast my gaze upon for eternity. Of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in the world, nothing will ever outshine what nature gives to us. How she makes woman with delicate skin and blushing cheeks, the colors of an exploding flower at the height of its bloom and that exceptional gift of gemstones and diamonds like stars that have fallen from the heavens to earth.
Recently we had lunch with Cartier at The Modern where we were first introduced to to their Étourdissant collection, a beautiful french word for “splendid”. The high jewelry collection is Cartier’s showcase of the most extraordinary, one of a kind pieces that can take the Maison years to create with the finest precious stones in the word. A collection so spectacular it is dizzying, like life itself if we watch with our eyes wide open. As we talked about the collection I was enchanted with the source of inspiration: the south of France, the Côte d’Azur, light and shadows, radiance and hues and the painters from France that created such vibrant works of beauty as a window into a world of natural wonders.
This thought of natural beauty stuck to me and I let images flood my mind and take me into an afternoon reverie. I became engrossed with the idea of creating Renoir’s garden. A place of dappled color, untamed beauty, a young girl with iridescent paper-like skin dreaming of all to come in life lost in her thoughts as she whiles away the afternoon. She is innate beauty nestled in a bouquet of nature’s glorious shimmering colors. We watch her, with all the luxury of time, her jewels that seem to float off her delicate skin and glitter in the warm, late afternoon light. She lives in a world of splendor changed only be the gentle breeze that sweeps through kissing her cheeks and carrying her thoughts away.
The house of Cartier has reminded me that we must celebrate beauty, treasure color, create contrasts and seek character for it is the explosion of these things that make the world étourdissant.
“You come to nature with all your theories, and she knocks them all flat.”- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Étourdissant Cartier Collection ring, 18k yellow gold, opal, colored sapphires, black lacquer, diamonds with vintage Gucci grey silk chiffon gown from Cloak Wardrobe under a rainbow pastel chiffon skirt by Marchesa.
“The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself and carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion. It is the current which he puts forth which sweeps you along in his passion.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“I look at a nude. There are myriads of tiny tints. I must find the ones that will make the flesh on my canvas live and quiver.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Étourdissant Cartier Collection earrings, 18k yellow gold, imperial topazes, colored sapphires, black lacquer, diamonds along with an Étourdissant Cartier Collection bracelet, 18k yellow gold, onyx, diamonds and nude silk chiffon gown by vintage Alexander McQueen from Cloak Wardrobe.
“I like a painting which makes me want to stroll in it.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Cartier Étourdissant collection shot at Jack Studios in New York City || Modeled by Emma Bartlett || Styled by Krisana Sotelo || Floral Set Design by Putnam & Putnam || Prop Stylist by Zio & Sons || Makeup by Christine Cherbonnier || Hair by Michael Thomas Lollo || Nails by Angel Williams
Some of the Pierre-Auguste Renoir paintings that inspired this story:
Femme avec parasol dans un jardin || Girl with Daises || The Bathers || La Promenade || The Lovers || Dance at Bougival || By the Seashore || Nude 1910 || In the Garden || Young Girl Bathing || Reclining Nude || In the Meadow || Young Woman Seated || The fisherman
There are a couple of things I have in common with Marchesa’s designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. First, my eternal love for a gown moment, and second, the St. Regis New York. For the past two fashion weeks Marchesa has shown their Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 collection in the opulent ballroom that brings to life the fantasy of their designs. Taking the relationship further, they just realeased a Marchesa Bridal Capsule Collection of exclusive and one-of-a-kind couture bridal gowns inspired by iconic St. Regis destinations around the world: Mumbai, Dubai, Punta Mita and New York.
Below is a look at the four romantic visions come to life we photographed in a suite at the St. Regis that left me dreaming of weddings all over again…. New York
It was as if someone opened a gilded bird cage and released a menagerie of exotic creatures loose in the middle of Manhattan watching Marchesa‘s spring summer collection emerge at the glamorous St. Regis New York. The fearless gowns were unapologetic in volume and romance, as if whom ever would wear such pieces of art would have the entire gardens of Versailles to swan around in under the might night sky. From the rainbow ombre tulle to the tiers of feathers, caged corsets to the gilded thread work, this is Marchesa’s imagined enchanted aviary garden set to the chorus of “Addicted to Love” and addicted, I am.
The Marchesa show is always one of opulent fantasy and this season was no exception. Hosted at the glamorous St. Regis New York, models cascaded down the runway under swaths of sparking chandeliers, mirrored walls and classic molding. Tucked away in this grandeur of an intimate ballroom we floated into designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig’s inspiration of Opium Dreams translated into gowns of billowing smoke, 3-D floral embroideries, fiery explosions of poppy red, a dance of seduction in barely there crystal embroidery and an ocean of waltzing fringe reminiscent of far away parties from jazz era opulence.
Now this is a dream I could dream forever…
Here we are, sitting in the New York Public Library, the lights of the room dim to darkness and I stare up at the glass ceiling glowing blue in the early evening light. In this 30 secs of darkness I wonder what creations Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa are about to bestow on to us. What dreams and fantasies we were about to see. For me, when I go to these shows and photograph all these amazing gowns, it is about where the pieces take me in my imagination. Are we going to be princesses or Oscar winners? Will we be midnight kisses in secret gardens or attending balls at the white house? I think about fashion, what it means, and for me it is that dream, the escape, the fantasy. It’s like watching a movie and if you let your mind be free enough there is a whole world of adventure to be had in the lace of a bodice or ripple of satin. When the designers talk about their visions for this collection they reference billowing bonfires sweeping through the Scottish Highlands… now that is a dream I can get into.
Marchesa always tells the story of romance…but each season, they manage to tell a completely different tale. This spring, it was a gothic fantasy, as easily set in the ruins of a faraway castle as on the runway.
Models wafted by, dressed in silks, laces and pastels, but decorated with deep purple lipstick, black feathers, and rose tattoos. Silk fringe and draped pearls called to mind decades past, and handmade fabric flowers echoed the shapes inked on the model’s bodies.
Marchesa invited us to join them on a dark and romantic journey…and we came willingly.
Evening gowns floated down the runway as if they had just emerged from an eighteenth-century painting…and in a way, they did. Francisco de Goya’s painting, “Portrait of Maria Teresa Vallabriga on Horseback” helped inspire the combination of structure and softness that appeared through the entire Marchesa collection.
With awards season just around the corner, it’s clear this kind of romance will make a return to the red carpet…
The MET Gala