Barbra Streisand wore this ethereal custom Marchesa gown during act two of Barbra: The Music…The Mem’ries…The Magic. The tour was launched in support of Streisand’s Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway album and consisted of a total of sixteen shows that took place between Aug 2, 2016 and May 6, 2017. Billboard magazine noted that the show grossed a total of $53 million and played to more than 200,000 fans. It was a massive success and is still available to stream on Netflix.
Barbra co-designed this fabulous look alongside Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. Regarding its creation, Barbra told WWD that “For the second act, I redesigned a dress I saw on the runway. I know my own body and that’s why I know what to show and what to disguise.” Streisand also added how impressed she was with the Marchesa team for bringing her vision to life so quickly. “You pin it, you talk about it, you see it, you try it, it’s one fitting and then it’s done. It was so delicious, so delightful, so wonderful.” Marchesa is named after socialite Marchesa Luisa Casati. Its founders, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig met at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. Chapman’s draping and design paired with Craig’s textile creations resulted in the launch of Marchesa in 2004.
I was lucky to see this show on five different occasions and was knocked out by this gown every time. Barbra’s fashion aesthetic shone through brightly in both the empire cut of the gown, and shoulder-baring sleeves. The flowing, silk cape brought to mind Streisand’s iconic A Happening in Central Park cape, and she used it equally as well as she had in 1967 to add movement and drama to her performance. The look also reminded me of the Bill Blass sailor dress worn in 1965’s Color Me Barbra.
After reviewing multiple Marchesa runway show archives, it is apparent that Barbra’s gown was inspired by elements of both Marchesa’s jeweled, antique-silk cocktail dress and tulle Grecian gown.
Barbra’s grey, silk-chiffon creation featured a plunging neckline that utilized mesh to create a nude-illusion while maintaining structure and modesty. There are halter straps and sheer, loosely gathered off-the-shoulder 3/4 sleeves. Fabric is gently draped around the bust and transitions to box pleats at the empire waist. These relax as the chiffon extends downward, creating a voluminous skirt which is finished with a rolled hem.
The focal point of this look was undoubtedly the jaw-dropping, multi-tiered, jeweled neck piece which decorated the entire bodice. This was crafted with lavender pearls, oversized teardrop crystals, circle and Emerald cut crystals. This intricate beadwork was sewn atop the nude-illusion fabric. At the empire waistline there is a row of lavender teardrop pearls that create a fringe effect. This is the point at which the beadwork transitions down the center front of the gown in a vertical panel. This is embellished with grey rice pearls and lavender pearls as wells Emerald cut and circular crystals.
There is a zipper closure at center back, and a dreamy cape which flowed from shoulder to floor. This was another incredibly successful concert look and made Barbra look like a Grecian goddess onstage.