She already has declared that their marriage is over, but the “unforgivable” behaviour of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein also may have dealt a fatal blow to his wife’s fashion label.
Marchesa was founded by Georgina Chapman, the British designer with whom Weinstein has two young children. She created feminine, fairytale dresses for the red carpet. He ensured the Hollywood A-list wore them.
Now its future looks about as bleak as that of an aspiring actress who has just rejected the millionaire in his bathrobe.
Fashion insiders say it is game over for the brand, once worn by leading ladies from Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock to Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz. “Bye Marchesa. Who would buy or wear it now?” says one. Another adds: “I can’t imagine any star wearing it now. They’re screwed.”
Chapman, a millionaire’s daughter from west London, began the business with her friend Keren Craig, and runs it with her brother Edward. If her disgraced husband drags the label down with him, it will add insult to injury for the former model and actress, described as “a very nice woman, warm, friendly and polite”.
“I’ve never known her to behave in any way other than graciously,” says a source. “She’s not a diva. Georgina softened Harvey — his image, if not his behaviour. His business is going to go under, and hers probably will too. I hope she’s got a very good pre-nup.”
She began dating Weinstein aged 28, in 2004, the same year she got her big break when Renee Zellweger wore the unknown label to the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, a film distributed by Weinstein’s company Miramax. Shortly after, Cate Blanchett wore another Marchesa gown to the Rome premiere of The Aviator, another Weinstein-backed movie.
The brand has denied benefiting from Weinstein’s influence. Weinstein later admitted he helped a “little” with the Zellweger debut, but Chapman insisted her business was completely separate from that of her husband, telling one interviewer: “I would not let him near this brand, no. When it comes to fashion, it’s a separate world: think church and state.”
Not everyone agreed. “Marchesa is a brand that’s run on celebrity connections,” one insider says. “Harvey was the star-maker. He was 400 per cent, 1000 per cent (responsible for Marchesa’s high profile) on the red carpet.”
Weinstein proposed to Chapman in Venice, and they married at his home in Connecticut in 2007. She appeared in small roles in some of his films and was a judge on Project Runway, a television series of which he was executive producer.
Asked in an interview what first attracted her to him, she said: “He is probably the most charismatic person you’ll ever meet. He’s an extraordinary man and an extraordinary talent. He is my husband and I love him. I love being married. Everyone said, ‘You won’t feel any different’, but I think you do. I’m romantic. Look at my clothes! I love the idea of the fairytale.”
While Chapman and Craig have been forced to cancel their brand’s summer 2018 preview this past week, with some writing off Marchesa as a toxic brand, others believe it is unfair to punish a wife for the crimes of her husband
“I do think some stores will drop them,” says one major retailer whose stores carry Marchesa in the US. “In fashion, editors and buyers only go with what’s ‘cool’. But they won’t suffer overseas. I think they can weather the storm.”