JCPenney's controversial makeover continues to provide us with surprises, including the news that Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman will be launching an exclusive collection for the department store next month. Penney's will be opening 500 in-store boutiques (pictured above) for the special occasion and party dress line to be called "Pearl by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa". Yes it's a mouthful, but it strategically downplays the Marchesa name to fine print in order to avoid rankling the luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus who sell the brands more exclusive and expensive lines. Prices will run from $50 to $200, with the bulk of the offerings falling in the $70 to $100 range.
Of the new venture, Chapman tells WWD, “It’s got a slightly different attitude, a younger attitude, but it all comes from me. It retains the same sensibility and design aesthetic. I wanted it be fun. So a young girl can put on a dress and imagine she’s about to have an incredible night out. I really wanted to reach a larger demographic and larger audience.”
Jumping from iconic red-carpet looks to the mass market is an almost unprecedented leap for any designer, especially one as rarefied and couture-oriented as Marchesa, but JCP, as the store wants to be known, is banking on the unexpected to bring new customers through its doors. Pearl's first delivery will be aimed at Prom shoppers, and the store will be advertising on this weekend's Academy Awards to take maximum advantage of the designer's red carpet associations.