Will Marchesa Survive the Departure Of Co-Founder Keren Craig?

Illustration for article titled Will Marchesa Survive the Departure Of Co-Founder Keren Craig?
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After almost a year without a formal runway show or substantial red carpet presence, WWD reports that Marchesa co-founder Keren Craig is exiting the brand. She told WWD:

“While I have made the difficult decision to part ways with Marchesa, I have tremendous pride in the company, the team, and the many successes achieved. Marchesa will always be the realization of a dream. [...] Over the last 16 years, it has been the most incredible and fulfilling professional journey. I am excited to now begin exploring additional creative opportunities and to push my potential as a designer in new directions.”

The decision comes amidst questions over the company’s future as Georgina Chapman, its other co-founder, stages her “comeback.” In May, she appeared alongside Constance Wu at the Met Gala, her first high-profile public appearance since the sexual assault allegations against her ex-husband, Harvey Weinstein, surfaced. It was a noteworthy return, a year after Met Gala chair Anna Wintour wrote about Chapman in her May 2018 editor’s letter:

I’ve known Georgina for a long time. We first met back in 2004, when she and Keren were launching their label, and she was giddy with anticipation and excitement about the future. She was warm, funny, and extremely self-deprecating. Georgina is essentially quite old-fashioned, and just as she was always the good daughter—she is still very close to her family—she also became the good wife. She adored Harvey, but in the blink of an eye, she went from being in a seemingly happy marriage to looking back on a relationship that had become both bewildering and terrifying.


In that piece, Wintour defended Chapman’s proximity to her husband during a period of time when he was allegedly assaulting scores of women:

I am firmly convinced that Georgina had no idea about her husband’s behavior; blaming her for any of it, as too many have in our gladiatorial digital age, is wrong. I believe that one should not hold a person responsible for the actions of his or her partner. What Georgina should be receiving is our compassion and understanding. Just before we finished this issue, I met with her again. While still in turmoil, she was intent on doing her best for the children she loves so much, and ready for life as an independent woman. She could begin to see a future.

In an accompanying Vogue profile, Chapman maintained that she didn’t know about her ex-husband’s behavior. But since their divorce and division of assets were settled out of court—papers not yet finalized—questions remain about Weinstein’s involvement in the once-prolific fashion house. In a report last year, The Daily Beast reported that Marchesa was linked to a business known as SeaMarch Creations, Inc., a connection which Chapman “declined to address” the connection at the time. They also discovered public records listing Weinstein as “president” of the corporation, with political donations linking the former couple and a previous address used by SeaMarch Creations. As The Daily Beast reported at the time:

In a listing at the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, the two companies are listed as one, Marchesa/SeaMarch Creations Inc., while both Marchesa and SeaMarch also appear together as defendants in a 2015 court filing, both sharing the same address at Marchesa HQ on West 26th Street in New York City. In the court filing, SeaMarch Creations Inc. is described as “d/b/a”—doing business as—Marchesa. The companies also appear co-joined in a LinkedIn profile (Marchesa also has its own).


Spokespeople further denied any connection between the brand and SeaMarch in a statement to the site: “Ms. Chapman, Ms. Craig, nor anyone else at Marchesa has any involvement at all in SeaMarch. SeaMarch has no involvement at all in Marchesa Holdings, LLC.” But it still stands that at various points in his career, Weinstein allegedly forced celebrities to wear his wife’s brand. As Jezebel’s Hazel Cills pointed out after the allegations against Weinstein first surfaced, various articles from the 2000s show a troubling relationship between the brand and Weinstein. A 2006 LA Times piece reported that “competitors complain that Marchesa dresses are worn because the stars [...] need to please the powerful Weinstein.” And when it came time for the starlets of Weinstein’s many films to walk red carpets, they would often appear in Marchesa. A publicist, speaking to THR, even claimed that he was the “mastermind behind Marchesa.”

Craig’s exit presents disparate, conflicting outcomes for Marchesa, which has opted out of the last three fashion runway seasons. While the company’s financials are unknown, Ken Downing, the fashion director for Neiman Marcus, spoke to the New York Times about the brand’s consumer base:

“Our customers never abandoned the brand. The Marchesa and Notte by Marchesa businesses continues to be very strong. Many, if not most, of our customers haven’t connected the dots between the designer and her marriage.”


With Georgina Chapman now the sole proprietor of Marchesa, the next year will be a test: With her copartner gone and influential ex-husband embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings and federal lawsuits—can, or should, the brand survive?

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