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The Wild Imagination of Georgina Chapman

Marchesa’s co-founder is directing her first short film and bringing her signature designs to a most unusual place

There’s no denying that Georgina Chapman is a perfectionist. The evidence is everywhere—from her fantastical clothing at Marchesa to her managing of a busy bi-coastal family to the way she eagerly tackles new projects. This year in particular was filled with impressive undertakings for the designer. Chapman presented three collections for Marchesa, released one in-house contemporary line called Marchesa Voyage and another for J.C. Penney, collaborated with Revlon on a line of applique nail art—all while managing to dive into the film world.

Chapman’s directorial debut, a 16-minute short called “A Dream of Flying,” was developed through Project Imaginat10n, a contest created by film industry veteran Ron Howard and Canon that asked amateur photographers to send in their favorite images. Notable names—including Chapman, Jamie Foxx and Eva Longoria, among others—then chose images and directed films inspired by them. Chapman picked 10 favorites and put together her story— a sweet fairy tale of a girl who can fly and a boy who comes in and out of her life. “I didn’t want to force the pieces to fit,” she tells DuJour. “I really wanted this to be about the photographs and let the pictures guide us to our story.”

Georgina Chapman

Georgina Chapman on set of her Project Imaginat10n film

For her entrée into film, Chapman drew upon her experience in fashion. “When the project was presented to me by Ron and I knew it would involve these Canon photographs, I did feel somewhat comfortable,” she says, “because that’s how I would start putting ideas together for a collection.” Despite her previous work in the film industry as a costume designer in England and dressing many top actresses on red carpets (she’s also married to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein), directing had never been on her mind. Still, Chapman found the opportunity hard to pass up.

“A Dream of Flying” behind the scenes

Storytelling through glamour and fantasy acts as Chapman’s modus operandi no matter what the project may entail. Aside from sitting in the director’s chair for the first time, Chapman is also dabbling in beauty with business partner Keren Craig, creating a line of applique nail art for Revlon. “Beauty is something women love to have fun with,” she says. “It should be entertaining to some degree and we really looked to our past collections and put this idea of accessible nail art out there in a glamorous way.” The collection borrows embroidery patterns and detailing from some of Marchesa’s signature looks. It’s a clever interpretation of a $20,000 red carpet gown that’s actually wearable for those not angling for the best actress Oscar. There’s plenty of whimsical beauty to go around, including in Marchesa’s latest contemporary line Marchesa Voyage (pictured below), which features versatile, everyday ready-to-wear ranging in price from $260 to $1000.

Looks from Chapman’s Marchesa Voyage collection

In between editing film frames and draping lace, Chapman is expertly balancing her growing family. She and Weinstein have a three-year-old daughter India and welcomed their son Dashiell this spring, right around the time she took on the Canon project. “Downtime is so much more important to me than it used to be now that I have children,” Chapman says. “Now, my downtime is all about my kids and even outside of our home they come to the office with me almost every day.” Between her growing brood and her Craig’s daughter (who’s the same age as India), the Marchesa office can tend to look more like a day care center than an atelier. Chapman prefers it that way—and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Chapman on set at “A Dream of Flying”

Besides skiing with her family in the New Year, this creative powerhouse is looking forward to any new endeavors that 2014 may bring. “I believe the more creative experience you have, the more you can bring that back to what you do,” she says. “I can bring everything back to Marchesa and I think it’s good to push yourself and try different disciplines, because in the end, it will just feed your creativity.” For a Jane of all trades like Georgina Chapman, that’s what life is all about.



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