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Here Comes the Marchesa Bride

Marchesa gowns, which have graced plenty of red carpets, will soon be making their way down wedding aisles, as well.

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Chapman plans to gauge customer reaction to determine the next move. "That's been our ethos for the whole of Marchesa," she said. "It's been an organic process. We'd like to start small, and then gradually grow."

The bridal launch is Marchesa's first extension since Chapman and Craig launched their eveningwear and diffusion Notte collections at retail in 2006. They founded Marchesa with one-of-a-kind, custom-made gowns in 2004.

Today the company's distribution has grown to about 130 doors for Marchesa and 180 doors for Notte, with total retail sales of $35 million. According to Edward Chapman, president of Marchesa and Georgina's brother, the company anticipates retail sales to increase to $50 million next year.

As president, Edward Chapman's mandate has been to help build an infrastructure to support the designs. Marchesa now employs a staff of 30 in its 5,000-square-foot Meatpacking District headquarters.

The recent growth also crystallized the different responsibilities Georgina Chapman and Craig have for their label. While there is an industrywide perception the two are co-designers, Chapman creates the collection concepts and designs, while Craig supports her ideas with textiles she sources worldwide and works with retailers.

"The fast growth of the company is exciting for everyone involved," Craig said. "It has really helped Georgina and I define our focus, and formalize what our roles have been for the past couple of years. With Georgina as the designer and creative director, my role has been primarily to focus on the business side, overseeing the commercial direction from a retail standpoint and supporting with the development of textiles."

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, said Marchesa has done "very well" at retail, noting the collection's breadth has widened since its launch.

"They are able to bring this fresh young attitude, the romantic spirit and a lot of classicism, and bridge a lot of those ideas to create beautiful clothes," Downing said. "And certainly, the fact that those clothes appear on the red carpet is a plus. We look at red carpet for evening direction as much as we look at the runway.

"They have continued to grow it at a pace that they were comfortable with," Downing continued. "Instead of just making clothes for the sake of more clothes, they have added more pieces, more quality and more distinctive design details that speak to their own aesthetic, without losing any of the charm of what Marchesa really represents for the customer."
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