The Future Of the Marchesa Brand Amid The Harvey Weinstein Scandal

Oct 13, 2017
Originally published on October 13, 2017 6:51 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The fallout from Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct scandal is extending to the fashion industry. Weinstein's now-estranged wife, Georgina Chapman, is an actress and a fashion designer. And over a decade ago, she founded a fashion label with her friend, the model Keren Craig. They called it Marchesa. Around the same time, Chapman married Weinstein and her company took off, going from a little-known startup to a fashion powerhouse. Soon dozens of actresses were wearing Marchesa gowns on the red carpet.

Booth Moore is fashion news director of The Hollywood Reporter and has written extensively about this. She joins us now from Milan. Welcome to the show.

BOOTH MOORE: Thanks so much.

MCEVERS: So when did you first start hearing about Marchesa as a fashion house? And can you describe how it became so popular?

MOORE: Yeah, it really kind of came on the scene somewhat suddenly. It was established in 2004. Georgina and Keren were classmates together at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. And they started the label and almost immediately started to dress really, really high-profile stars on the red carpet. The first placement was Renee Zellweger for the London premiere of the "Bridget Jones's Diary," which was a big deal, and also happened to be a film that was being distributed by Miramax, which was Georgina's boyfriend at the time, Harvey Weinstein's, company.

MCEVERS: You write in your most recent article about a certain kind of pressure that Harvey Weinstein put on actresses to wear Marchesa gowns to red carpet events. Talk about that.

MOORE: Yeah, I think that it's pretty widely acknowledged that he used his connections and his associations to get A-list talent to wear his girlfriend and later wife's fashion collection, Marchesa. And I've also heard stories about, you know, even sort of threats that he would make about publicizing a certain film or actress if they didn't wear the label.

MCEVERS: Do you know if Georgina Chapman was aware of that?

MOORE: I don't know if she was aware of that. I do know that she has admitted that he helped her because, you know, it was actually somewhat of a discussion in the fashion industry early on in the label's history about how they went so far so fast and whether it was actually deserved. So, you know, she does acknowledge that her relationship with him and his relationship with Hollywood did help the rise of the label.

MCEVERS: Georgina Chapman announced earlier this week she is leaving her husband. Do you think that will change people's opinion of the Marchesa label?

MOORE: I think it's going to be difficult because he's very much a figure who has been a bridge between Hollywood and the fashion worlds. So I think it's going to be hard to disentangle Marchesa from his image. And I also think we're in an interesting time where there's really this idea of conscientious consumerism. And you can see it if you want to talk about, for example, the Ivanka Trump fashion line. You know, I think that people really are voting with their dollars or, you know, really are emotional about the way that they spend money nowadays so that this scandal could affect the fortunes of Marchesa.

MCEVERS: You know, we're talking about actresses and gowns that they wear on the red carpet. I mean, Marchesa dresses are also sold in places like Neiman Marcus. I mean, would - could this hurt their retail business? I mean, you're talking about people voting with their dollars.

MOORE: Yeah. I mean, you know, Marchesa has a more accessible line called Marchesa Notte where the gowns are around a thousand dollars. So, you know, those are the gowns that are sold at Neiman Marcus. And I think certainly that they could start to see an effect on that business right away. And also this week, you know, we've seen another effect on their business, which is that they were set to launch a licensed jewelry collection and the jeweler that was going to be producing the collection canceled it.

MCEVERS: Booth Moore, fashion news director of The Hollywood Reporter, thank you so much.

MOORE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.