Marie Marie fills the closet void. By Meredith Fisher
Oh, the dreaded missing piece in your wardrobe. Just what you want—just what you can't find (yet). We all have one. Unless, by chance, you're a close friend of Jada Marie Simons or Alicia Marie Arena who, back in 2003, launched a 10-piece perfect shirt collection to meet the wardrobe needs of their nearest and dearest.
"Our first shirt happened by accident," recalls Jada. "It was a Friday afternoon, we were bored at work, and broke, so we just starting fooling around with designs." The rest is fashion fairytale: Friend sees shirt; friend wants shirt; friend has a friend who owns a boutique; the label Marie Marie is born.
Now, three years later, the two designers who met at Washington State University have turned their Friday-afternoon hobby into a fulltime line of sophisticated dresses inspired by real women and the unabashed glamour of the 1950s. "We find a lot of inspiration in our friends and family, and look to them for ideas on the kinds of pieces that are missing in their closet," adds Jada. "We design for ourselves, as well." The result is a modern and wearable line, dominated by irresistible dresses. The focus is on pitch-perfect lines and figure-flattering draping, with a specific attention to quality fabrics, including their signature viscose jersey they designed in tandem with their mill in Italy.
"The most important thing is the fit of the garment, great fabric, and excellent construction," says Jada. "Once we have that foundation, we can add some detailing." Fall '06 reveals the Fetish dress, a strapless pleated number that is constructed using over 100 delicate folds (you can top it with a versatile and sweet little Fetish jacket as well). The Sonny gown is a floor-sweeping design that yields simplicity in the front betrayed by a dramatic cutout in the back. "We develop silhouettes that are trend-driven, but definitely not trendy," says Alicia. "They're styles that will thrive from season to season."
For spring '07, Marie Marie delivers more volume and structure highlighted in a seersucker chiffon the designers created specifically for the collection. And while spring will bring lighter fabrics, certain signature pieces will make the seasonal transition, including their favorite "favorite dress," and the "ideal" jacket. "We want to expand the collection to include more jackets, pants, and skirts," says Jada. "We did a lot of shorts, for spring, too."
And while the two continue moving forward to broaden Marie Marie, the designers continue to draw on their past experiences at Donna Karan and Michael Kors. "We are definitely keeping our eye on what other designers are doing, but we also look to a lot of design history books, finding a lot of ideas in old Dior and Chanel shapes," says Jada. "Of course, our friends still help us, too."
Marie Marie is available in New York at Sir, 360 Atlantic Avenue, 718-643-6877, and in Los Angeles at Curve, 154 North Robertson Boulevard, 310-360-8008. For more information go to www.mariemarie.com.
Marie Marie fills the closet void.