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  Wedding articles -> Every wedding dress or bridal gown tells a story

When a multimillionaire Hollywood mogul marries a red-carpet designer-to-the-stars, one would expect everything to flow as smoothly as a film script. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, as Georgina, one half of the Marchesa fashion partnership, and Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein, discovered at their wedding "at home" in Westport, Connecticut, last December.


Bridal belle: society model Poppy Delevigne wears a Marchesa wedding dress or wedding gown
"There were some nightmare moments," says the former actress and model, who was born in Richmond, London. 

"Firstly, I had flu. Then my bridal dress, which had been sent to India to be hand-beaded, came back brown. Can you believe it? The beautiful silk tulle, with very delicate threadwork and pleated fans, was half white and half a dirty shade of brown. Four days before the wedding, we were washing and bleaching it - and praying. And then the whole thing had to be re-pleated.

"Then, on the day, while we were exchanging the rings, I suddenly remembered that when I'd gone to the bathroom just before, I'd done up the hooks and eyes on the corset top, but I hadn't done up the skirt. I had nightmare visions of my back facing the guests with the skirt undone. And I wasn't even wearing nice bridal underwear; I had my M&S knickers underneath! Fortunately, there was a lot of fabric in the skirt, so it wasn't noticeable."

Georgina's dress was Fifties in style and inspired by the old black and white movies she used to watch - a complete contrast to what she had once envisaged. 

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"In my twenties, I always thought I'd be very funky when I got married. But I have three step-children, all girls [Lily, 13, Emma, 10, and Ruthie, five, by Harvey's first wife, Eve Chilton], and I didn't want to embarrass them.

"I didn't wear a veil. Lorraine Schwartz [the jeweller] lent me tons of pearls - about $2 million worth - which arrived in plastic bags. There were some beautiful, vintage brooches, so I had my hair up and used them as hair pins. I wore Christian Louboutin crystal platform shoes with the soles painted blue and then I sewed my grandmother's engagement ring to my garter. I made the girls' dresses, too, but they helped with the design. They picked the colours blue and purple, whereas I probably would have had them in white. But they looked beautiful."

Before the wedding - guests included Sir Paul McCartney and his friend Nancy Shevell - Georgina was constantly asked how many dresses she was going to wear. "There's this trend to change several times - one for the ceremony, another for the reception, something else for later on. Me? I just had my bridal gown and I wore it until the party finished. That night, I had 15 children for a sleepover: our three and all their friends. So I was baby-sitting. We're yet to have our honeymoon!"

Weddings are still very much on Georgina's mind. Her design partner, Keren Craig, is marrying her long-term boyfriend in July - wearing Marchesa, of course - and the duo, whose fans include Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and Sienna Miller, have just launched a capsule bridal collection.


Designer Georgina Chapman with Harvey Weinstein 
"It's very much off-the-peg. Bergdorfs [the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York] wanted quick wedding dresses and it's a perfect niche for us," says Georgina. There's a trend now for brides to want things a little easier and the idea of the big gown is rather old-fashioned. There will always be some who want the full fairytale, but for a lot of young girls, to go from jeans and T-shirt to a big dress is such a leap."

"You don't want to end up looking at the photographs and saying: 'What on earth was that? What was I thinking!' You want something that is very much like what you would wear to a fabulous party. Many girls simply do not have the luxury of the time it takes for a made-to-order gown - not to mention the expense."

One who apparently does have time and money at her disposal is Coleen McLoughlin, who is rumoured to be wearing a ?100,000 crystal and pearl couture Marchesa dress when she marries Wayne Rooney next month.

But for those with a less extravagant budget, the capsule collection features five designs, costing between $3,000 and $10,000, which are ready-to-wear - and far cheaper - versions of the hand-beaded, embroidered and draped red-carpet couture gowns for which the Marchesa brand is renowned. The label also has a cheaper diffusion line called Notte, which includes some evening gowns that are suitable for brides.

"Eventually, we will do a couture bridal collection when Marchesa broadens out," says Georgina, who was initially a costume designer and met Keren at the Chelsea College of Art in London. "But we're still a very small company. We've only been going three years and we have a staff of 30. I drape every dress by hand; all of them are made in New York and then hand-beaded in India. It takes months. Every design is a showpiece, a labour of love. I wouldn't enjoy it if it all became too corporate."

Georgina's relationship with Weinstein has inevitably led to gossip and bitchy tabloid articles insisting that Marchesa's success is based entirely on his influence.

"They would say that, wouldn't they," says Georgina. "I'm not going to deny that being with Harvey has helped. But if the dresses were no good, people wouldn't wear them. I think our list of clients speaks for itself." As does the fact that the brand was named one of the 10 finalists in the highly regarded Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2006.

Georgina has no intention of turning her back on designing and becoming a Hollywood wife. "I think Harvey would shoot himself if I gave up," she says. "Otherwise, I'd be spending his money all day!" 
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