Marchesa's gown (left) undoubtedly echoes the sinuous curves and bold black ironwork-like pattern of the gown (c. 1898-1900) by famed couturier Charles Frederick Worth. The classically Art Nouveau reference is undeniable. Marchesa's modern take on Worth's gown accentuates the waist to avant-garde proportions. What's appealing about both of these gowns are that the repeated "S" shape and scroll patterning further emphasizes and parallels the shape of the woman's body. A bold, flattering statement piece, for a confident young ingenue.
Albeit a contemporary reference, a reference nonetheless. Marchesa's pale pink chiffon gown shows off feminine curves and rises to a level verging on haute-couture. The meticulous pleating and draping work exemplified here, is some of the best technical work coming out of the States. Because of this reason, I compared it to the work of Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci. Housed in the permanent collection of The Met's Costume Institute, this gown (2007) although not haute-couture, is an exceptional example of the return to voluminous ball-gown type dressing, a-la-Charles James.This Marchesa seems to be the younger sister of this "Junon" ball gown from Dior's Fall/Winter 1949-50 collection. Their simple black on white color scheme and ombre detailing echo each other but in quite different ways. The impeccable detailing of the Dior beading and its delicate flower petal-like layers give it a unique silhouette. Marchesa's dress utilizes new technologies for textile printing and achieves a much larger volume in the skirt.
Anyone recognize the fair lady muse on the right? If you look closely at both of these garments, you can see a parallel in silhouette in both the hip and the incorporation of pants! Denise Poiret, muse and wife to the chic French couturier Paul Poiret shows her costume for their infamous Arabian Nights Costume party. The Marchesa lace jumpsuit on the left presents a sexier more chic and wearable option for the contemporary woman. The exaggerated lamp-shade skirt on Denise pushes the envelope of silhouette and function.
Finally, the designers reference themselves with this dress. Test your fashion history knowledge and look for its inspirations from previous collections. Search for more references from this collection, there are lots!
(All Marchesa images from Style.com, comparative images from The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art: metmuseum.org)