In the weeks after the initial exposure of Harvey Weinstein’s widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood, the scandal has continued to grow as new allegations surface. Simultaneously, the situation has sent another brand into crisis: the high-fashion designer Marchesa. Known for its presence on the red carpet, the brand is co-owned by Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, who has now filed for divorce.
Weinstein pictured with Chapman, wearing Marchesa
After the scandal broke, Marchesa was swiftly dropped from a collaborative engagement ring collection with Helzberg Diamonds. Marchesa also announced that the press preview of its Spring/Summer 2018 collection is postponed.
Still, many retailers stand behind the Marchesa label, preferring not to punish Chapman for her husband’s mistakes.
Perhaps more important than Marchesa’s retail contracts, and most interesting from a communications perspective, is how the brand’s appearance on the red carpet is affected. While Marchesa is a player in the high-end department store and bridal markets, its reputation as an opulent outfitter of Hollywood stars for red carpet events has become the label’s signature. It’s no industry secret that Weinstein pressured actresses to wear the brand. It’s no coincidence that 2007, the year the brand exploded onto the Hollywood scene, was also the year its co-founder married Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. It was this word-of-mouth, industry insider relationship that built Marchesa into a red carpet powerhouse.
Marchesa’s Hollywood reputation is expected to take the biggest hit, with actresses likely wanting to distance themselves in all ways possible from the Weinstein name. Infectious word-of-mouth led to Marchesa’s rapid red carpet success, but it may also put the brand at risk of demise.
It would be nice to think that as Chapman goes through this divorce, women would stand behind her and support her business as a way of showing solidarity. It may be just that, a nice thought. It may be impossible in the minds of many to fully separate Chapman’s brand from her husband’s transgressions. While it may be easier for outsiders less familiar with insider Hollywood and fashion industry connections to separate the two, it is sure to prove difficult for those who matter most, Hollywood’s biggest stars.
This predicament that Marchesa finds itself in raises many questions. Was Helzberg Diamonds right to drop Marchesa from the collaboration? Should more collaborators/contractors follow suit? By postponing the showing of its latest collection, has Marchesa done enough communications-wise to weather the Weinstein storm? Does the fact that Marchesa rose to prominence because of word-of-mouth make the brand more vulnerable to a crisis?