Marchesa inspired by portraits as unexpected theme

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL AP Fashion Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The reputation of craftsmanship that Marchesa and its designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig found a new challenge in a collection that debuted Wednesday at New York Fashion Week: 17th-century equestrian portraits.

In particular, a painting by Francisco de Goya called "Portrait of Maria Teresa de Vallabriga on Horseback."

"Highlighting Goya's influential style of dark shaded color applied in layers, the techniques used to craft this collection are derived from the same grandeur of exquisite detail and romance," the designers said in their notes.

Chapman also fancied a red equestrian jacket, and Craig was ready to step up the already elaborate threadwork.

Marchesa's various themes "depend what we're in the mood for," Chapman said, "and I had a vision of a red equestrian jacket."

Both women said they were horseback riders as young girls.

But, unlike some designers who are quite literal in their interpretations, Marchesa aims for artistry. That "jacket" ended up as a satin coat with an embroidered high collar and floral embroidery.

They must have scores of yards of tulle to create an illusion effect to envelope entire gowns and for sheer shirts that were worn with corset-style dresses.

Even a bit of a menswear vibe was introduced through a shirting striped fabric -- which then was used on a deconstructed gown with a mermaid hemline and floral threadwork. Still, it was an unexpected twist for a label known for goddess looks.

Some of the gowns were to be packed up right after the show, bound for Los Angeles and, presumably, a red carpet. The designers keep a list of looks they think are red-carpet worthy.

Maybe Miley Cyrus was doing a bit of shopping from her front-row seat at the elegant venue at the New York Public Library.

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