Behind the Scenes

Backstage at Marchesa

Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig debut a collection inspired by India in the 1960s. By Isabel Wilkinson.

The backstage area of a fashion show is almost always a madhouse. There are about four hairstylists to every head, frantic makeup minions, and more publicists carrying clipboards than you can count. It’s a bit, well, like Grand Central Station.

Now imagine putting that environment into Grand Central Station. That’s what Marchesa did on Wednesday afternoon, presenting a show in the terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.

Marchesa usually holds it show in a gilded ballroom of the Plaza Hotel—but here, despite a few frantic businessmen sprinting for the train, it tried to recreate that feeling of opulence. But leave it to New Yorkers to be unfazed. “There are about 18,000 models here,” said one harried commuter into her cell phone as she dodged model Jessica Stam on the street outside. “And I’m just trying to make it to Metro North.”

Understandably, the entire operation posed a security threat, especially when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were brought into the middle of the crowd minutes before the show. During the hair and makeup portion of the afternoon, a security sweep required that everyone evacuate for half an hour while two security guards combed the building.

But never mind all that. Marchesa is a brand about fantasy and otherworldliness, not the kind of glamour that unfolds on 42nd Street. This season, the inspiration for the collection was India in the 1960s—the kind of India the Beatles sang about; an exotic destination that was part fantasy and part adventure. “We really incorporated the idea of Indian silhouettes with ’60s silhouettes,” designer Georgina Chapman told me before the show. “It’s really the mix of Indian culture and ’60s culture.”

Indeed, the collection brought out vibrant colors, sari-like draping, detailed embroideries, and jeweled embellishments. There were slim pants with shirts, and sweeping dresses. “When we first started discussed doing a line together,” said designer Keren Craig, “we were in India, so it holds a warm place in our heart.”

In the past few years, Marchesa has become a celebrity favorite. Just last week, Blake Lively wed Ryan Reynolds in a dress of their design. The Marchesa duo submitted sketches for Lively to approve. Said Craig: “Blake’s a good friend, and we were just so thrilled when she asked us to do the dress.”