The fashion choices on the Emmys red carpet were exceptionally fearless this year. Padma Lakshmi re-wore an orange J. Mendel gown to make a statement against wastefulness. Tiffany Haddish wore a rainbow Prabal Gurung wrapped dress that demanded twirling.
Issa Rae opted for a periwinkle Vera Wang jumpsuit embellished with 3,000 crystals (wouldn’t you?).
But there was one place none of them dared to go. Marchesa, a red carpet staple line until October of last year, was nowhere to be found, at least on celebrity attendees.
Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig's line was all but shunned after Chapman’s husband, Harvey Weinstein, was accused of multiple sexual assaults last year. She has since filed for divorce.
In June The Daily Beast revealed a business link between Marchesa and a company called SeaMarch Creations Inc (an anagram of Marchesa) that itself appeared to have links to Weinstein. Chapman, Marchesa, and Weinstein declined to answer a series of questions posed by The Daily Beast about Weinstein and his financial links to his wife's company, past and present.
Weeks before the Emmys, WWD theorized that Marchesa could make a “comeback” on the Emmys red carpet.
Stylist Michah Shifman said, “Talking to other stylists at dinner, they are really rooting for the brand and Georgina right now and I would not be surprised to see one, maybe two, big girls wearing it at the Emmys.”(Schifman and reps for Marchesa did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment.)
Stylist Jessica Paster told WWD: “Whatever people do in their personal life, what does it have to do with fashion? Georgina wasn’t the one hurting women. I love Marchesa and I think the girls are awesome. I’ll be dressing Amanda Crew and Ellie Kemper for the Emmys and of course I will be pulling it… Let’s not be too judgmental because we should all be looking at who we’re married to. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”
On Emmys night, neither Crew nor Kemper wore Marchesa. If the stylists had presented the label's offerings to actresses, for whatever reason none of those actresses chose to wear it.
Though there were a few Marchesa lookalikes such as Taraji P. Henson’s trained Giambattista Valli mini or Emilia Clarke’s lace-and-floral drop waist, no “big girls” donned the line. Even Scarlett Johansson, who pointedly wore Marchesa to the Met Gala in May, wore a structured Balmain.
“I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers,” Johansson told The Cut after the Met Gala.
Her move was met with mixed reviews, but Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, came to both Johansson and Chapman’s defense on an episode of The Late Show. Johansson's statement happened to coincide with the release of a sympathetic Vogue piece on Chapman’s life after Weinstein.
Since then, Marchesa has been spotted on the red carpet with much less frequency—and at lower-profile events—than it had before the scandal. Vanessa Hudgens showed up to the premiere of her film Dog Days in a blush Marchesa frock, and Kate Beckinsale wore telltale floral appliqué to an event in New York on September 13.
A show-stopping blue Marchesa was featured during a pivotal scene in Crazy Rich Asians, though Vox reported that shooting on the film wrapped four months before the Weinstein allegations surfaced.
After so eagerly cheering on Chapman in May, Vogue didn’t review the line’s Spring 2019 collection; and the Fashion Week launch received zero coverage from other journalists. Only a textless gallery of photos from its lookbook made it on to Vogue’s site.
Although certain stylists may not hold Chapman accountable for her estranged husband’s actions, it appears that most celebrities have not warmed to the idea of forgiveness just yet. This attitude may have hardened with the publication of The Daily Beast's detailed report.
In the wake of #MeToo, Marchesa became synonymous with Weinstein’s physical and emotional abuse of women.
In 2017, Felicity Huffman confirmed longstanding rumors that Weinstein threatened to pull promotion for her 2005 film Transamerica if she didn’t sport the line at events. The Hollywood Reporter first reported similar stories about Weinstein strong-arming Sienna Miller and Renee Zellweger into wearing the line.
As an acquaintance of Chapman told The Daily Beast in June, “He forced actresses to wear [Marchesa] and that’s how she got famous. Nobody knew who Marchesa was until Harvey put it on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, Cannes, and Oscars.”
Now that there is no bullying on Marchesa's behalf, perhaps celebrities are re-evaluating the line's merits.
For the past 14 years, Marchesa designs have embraced an idealized image of glamour that celebrates women who project effortless, goddess status. Such delicate, hyper-femininity may not be preferred in a sartorial climate where strength, gender-fluidity, and minimalism reign.
Unlike when Marchesa peaked in the early and mid-aughts, we now live in a post-Fashion Police era. “Worst dressed” lists are considered tasteless, even sexist. A mere four or five years ago, Joan Rivers would have had a field day bemoaning Tracee Ellis Ross' comforter-esque fuschia Valentino dress.
Of course, if Weinstein hadn’t been outed, perhaps Marchesa’s downfall wouldn’t have been so swift and public. But the line, which turns the women who wear it into living clouds or tiered cupcakes, champions a fantasy image that seems staid on an Emmys red carpet full of glitter pantsuits and ACLU-supporting pins.
However, let’s remember the event is just the start of a months-long award season. We may not have seen the last of Marchesa yet—so fasten your glittery, feathery, intricately beaded seatbelts.