“Bejeweled Skeletons” and Catholic Iconography on the Marchesa Runway

Both angels and demons were present on the Marchesa catwalk in gowns finished with skeleton-like embroidery, white plumage, and gold brocade.

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Runway looks from Marchesa's Fall 2012 collection at New York Fashion Week.
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It's unlikely that the words "minimal" or "clean" are in Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig's vocabulary; their breathtaking eveningwear for Marchesa is so dependably exuberant, luxurious and over-the-top.
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The ladies' second-ever catwalk show at the Plaza Hotel was a truly glitzy affair, with the likes of Taylor Momsen and Bar Rafaeli ushered down a long red carpet and into the golden ballroom.
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However, the collection itself had a slightly darker story this season (even if the looks themselves were downright pretty-pretty-princess). "It started from the idea of religious iconography," Chapman told us backstage. "Particularly the painting 'A Soul Brought to Heaven' by Bouguereau," in which two angels are seen flying a woman shrouded in black towards sun-filled clouds.
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Appropriately, both angelic and devilish elements were present in the collection, which opened with a series of frothy white looks finished with elaborate gold embroidery.
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Indeed, there was something kind of medieval about the lacy gold looks (less in terms of actual silhouette than the color and detail). This lace dress was finished with golden feathers at the hem.
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With so many starlets in the crowd, we couldn't help wondering if the designers factor in a bit of Oscar Fever while designing their statement-making gowns in case somebody feels inclined to snag a look straight from the runway.
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"No, I don't consider that when we're putting together the fall collection," Chapman said definitively. "I always do the collection purely for the collection's sake, and if somebody sees something they love, then I'm just grateful for that."
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The level of detail (and, no doubt, expense) that goes into certain pieces is truly mind-boggling. This strapless lace look, for example, is finished with thick plumes of white feathers, calling to mind the angels' wings in Bouguereau's painting.
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Skeleton-like embellishments reappear in Marchesa's collections, but this season Chapman was specifically referencing the "jewel-encrusted skeletons" in church paintings.
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Certain looks had a slightly more casual, "cocktail" appeal, like this short gold dress.
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Of course, brides-to-be will love the unusual number of all-white looks in the Fall '12 collection, including this feathery, off-the-shoulder confection.
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A knock-out white sequin gown with a train of tiny white feathers.
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Another angelic, feathered creation in a shorter, asymmetrical silhouette.
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Marchesa's take on the season's ubiquitous leather dress trend, complete with flared skirt and laser-cut details.
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The darker looks were perhaps more intriguing than Marchesa's frothy white confections. This sexy black lace number features a delicate gold overlay shaped to look like ribs and bones.
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Surely, the actress' in attendance were eyeing the gold and scarlet looks, which would definitely turn heads on the Oscar red carpet -- or any red carpet, for that matter.
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One of the evening's more epic gowns -- a lace-topped bright red confection.
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Another Oscar contender with a gold brocade top and a liquid-like bronze full skirt.
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