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Marchesa: tattered tulle confections

Fashion from the fall 2011 Marchesa collection is

Fashion from the fall 2011 Marchesa collection is modeled on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The fairytale confections that Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig regularly turn out for Marchesa's A-List, red-carpet-headed celebrity clients have a way of defying gravity. And explanation.  Grand, sumptuous--no adjective seems too over-the-top.  So it was interesting to sense a slightly different vibe in the air at their recent show, with dresses that evoked (just slightly, mind you) a faded glory, or luxury on the wane.

Not that they're anything less than opulent, in swaths of elaborate, embroidered lace, crystals, pearls and intricately cut leather.  But one strapless red dress was formed of delicate folds and trimmed with tattered tulle.  Or there were the black lace-edged jackets worn over dresses where the embroidered seems to wear away, leaving parts of the skirt sheer.

(That, of course, makes it all the easier to see the shoes, which were the brand's standard torture chamber devices--masochistic pumps from Christian Louboutin, with needle-spike heels that caused visibly pained expressions on many of the model's otherwise lovely faces.)

Some dresses were Cher-worthy daring numbers of sheer tulle with swirls of carefully placed beads and crystals.  One delicate blush mermaid number may even need to come with a defibrillator--it can stop one's breathing.

Slightly tattered or not, the effect is still stunning.  Norma Desmond, of "Sunset Boulevard," would reserve a place in her closet for any of these.

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