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Georgina Chapman: no longer behind Harvey Weinstein, still behind a global brand

Georgina Chapman, left, and Karolína Kurková arrive at the Met Gala in New York
Georgina Chapman, left, and Karolína Kurková arrive at the Met Gala in New York. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Only days ago, Harvey Weinstein insisted that his wife, Georgina Chapman, “couldn’t be standing behind me more”. Now, after a deluge of allegations against Weinstein culminated in accusations of rape, Chapman has decided she cannot stand behind him any longer.

On Tuesday, the 41-year-old British fashion designer confirmed she had left the film producer, saying: “My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions.”

Her announcement ends a 10-year marriage. But while the scandal engulfing Weinstein, 65, has made him the inevitable focus in recent days, once the dust has settled Chapman – who has two children with Weinstein, India Pearl and Dashiell – will go back to a lucrative career of her own, as co-founder of the designer label Marchesa.

The brand is a global powerhouse, claiming to be the most worn label on the red carpet last year. The supermodel Karolína Kurková wore a Marchesa frock to the Met Gala, Heidi Klum wore one to the Oscars, and Katy Perry chose Marchesa for the Cannes film festival.

But with her clothes having been highly visible at movie premieres, the question now is whether one of the biggest scandals in Hollywood’s history will affect Chapman’s business.

Chapman, who met Weinstein at a party in 2004, launched her label the same year. It made its worldwide debut at the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason the same year, when Renée Zellweger wore an embellished red bandeau sari dress. Shortly after, the previously unknown British label was sported by numerous other high-profile Weinstein associates, including Cate Blanchett at the Rome premiere of The Aviator.

Renée Zellweger wears a Marchesa dress at the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Renée Zellweger wears a Marchesa dress at the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Photograph: Adam Butler/AP

Chapman has battled claims that Marchesa’s success is inextricably tied to her husband’s influence. “Marchesa’s breathtaking success has the fashion world talking – and rolling its eyes, too,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in the label’s early days. “Just how much of that success, observers wonder, is due to the Harvey factor?” According to a Vogue profile, bets were placed on which would last longer: the romance between Chapman and Weinstein or her label.

But within two years, Marchesa was named one of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s top 10 finalists, and the dresses were featured in Vogue spreads. The brand endured. “If it floats, swishes or clings to an actor’s hips like beautiful glue … chances are it’s a Marchesa gown,” wrote the Guardian fashion team on the label’s 10th anniversary.

“When you see her beautiful work, you feel like you’re witnessing a craft that doesn’t exist any longer,” Blake Lively, who wore Marchesa to wed Ryan Reynolds, once said. “The only designer that really makes you feel like a princess.”

Chapman was educated at Marlborough College, a private boarding school in Wiltshire, before attending the Chelsea College of Art and Design, where she met her future business partner, Keren Craig. She studied for a degree in costume design at Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon College of Arts), graduating in 2001.

She and Craig decided to start a line of luxury eveningwear after the stylist and magazine editor Isabella Blow was reportedly impressed by a corseted dress she saw Chapman wearing at a London party; Chapman had created the dress herself.

Chapman also had a brief modelling and acting career, appearing in short films and TV movies until late 2005. She then had bit parts in bigger projects such as Factory Girl and The Nanny Diaries, Jezebel reports.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2015 said Chapman was worth £15m. She has starred as a judge on Project Runway All Stars and America’s Next Top Model.

The New York Daily News reported in 2005 that Chapman and Weinstein made their first public appearance as a couple at that year’s Golden Globes. Now, as their relationship comes to an end, Weinstein – who denies the allegations of rape – has said: “I support her decision, I am in counselling and perhaps, when I am better, we can rebuild.”

This article titled "Georgina Chapman: no longer behind Harvey Weinstein, still behind a global brand" was written by Nadia Khomami, for The Guardian on Wednesday 11 October 2017 01.13pm

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