Runway vs. Real Fuggin’ Life: Julie Bowen in Marchesa


It’s rare that you see a dress that’s SUPPOSED to have a bare midriff actually have it DENIED.

As unimpeachable as I imagine her midriff is, I think the changes she made to this to make it less naked are to her advantage. I like the silvery grey color. But even with her adjustments, it’s basically lace swaddling — a glorified, expensive toga, which is bandaging her up and basically doing nothing to enhance the figure it was reconceived to hide. I’m not sure it was worth the effort in the first place, but since it’s not one of the more ragingly inane Marchesa confections of the last few years, I’m throwing it to the voting wolves of Fug Nation. You can snack on my ambivalence before tucking into the main course.

Loading ... Loading ...

[Photo: Getty]


Leave a reply

Comments (39):

  1.  gf

    I like it better on Bowen, but it is maybe a bit too long?

  2.  Robyn

    I like she has her midriff covered but I wish it was shorter like the runway version. Also, I think having her hair up would have helped a lot.

  3.  Anna

    I don’t usually like midriff-baring, but I think it’s pretty clear that this dress is playing off of the idea of a sari and, to me at least, the bare midriff makes more sense in that context. Also, the tummy coverage is so obviously tacked on after the fact (unlined) so it looks a little unfinished to me, whereas the runway version looks fully intentional about it’s bare waist. So, maybe it’s just that clothes look so good on leggy models, but I’m going to have to go with the runway version–it just seems to be a better execution of the concept.

    • Heather

      That’s actually how I voted, too, for the same reason. I don’t really LIKE either one of them but I think the IDEA of the dress is clearer and truer on the runway.

    • nobody much

      I voted runway for the same reason. At least there, the draping makes a little sense.

      •  Jess

        Honestly, I don’t love either version (but it’s Marchesa, so no big shock there!). However, I agree with Anna — the runway version evokes a sari and I think it’s a much better design. I think some skin keeps it from looking like a lacy swaddle, and shows some interesting design. I do have to say I love the color! I really enjoy that shade of gray.

    • karen

      me four.

    • Maria L.

      Runway here too. If you are going to go all cultural appropriation, you need to embrace it, instead of the half-hearted version Bowen is wearing. The running errands hair she is sporting doesn’t help either.

      To be perfectly fair – I dislike them both; then again, there’s very little Marchesa I have ever admired. I find Chapman’s stuff over-designed and saccharine.

      • Mallie

        God, I so detest that “cultural appropriation” term; it’s particularly ridiculous when applied to fashion. Yes, designers borrow (and have done so for years) from other cultures (from East and West and back again), and I don’t want to even think about how boring clothing would be if that weren’t the case. There’s enough actual discrimination and abuse going on in the world without having to go looking for something to be offended about.

        • Maria L.

          Don’t read more into my use of the term than is intended. Of course fashion, just like art and music, is influenced by other cultures. And it makes things interesting. My only point is that if you are going to go for a sari effect, then go for it – don’t do it half-assed and cover up.

    • G

      Agreed. Came here to say it looks like the lingerie version of a sari, and she looks like she covered the middle so she could wear it to high school.

  4. nmlhats

    You need to add a “neither” button.

  5. Julia

    I don’t *like* the reality version, but I loathe the runway version, so in my book, this is definitely an improvement.

  6. Rachael

    I’m mad at the half-assed styling. I DEMAND PURPLE SHOES.

    • Wildviolette

      Normally I would be hollering AMEN at you, but in this case I think there is already so much going on with the dress that a bright shoe would distract or just be too much. I am, however, glad she didn’t go with that horrible Band-Aid color on her feet. That’s always awful.

      • Kate

        I think not bright, but a plum perhaps? I think a purple could look tremendous.

  7. Moni

    I like the runway version better, but not because I prefer a bare midriff.
    Instead I like it better because it has more structure. In a way it reminds me of a sari with the cropped top and draping, and the bare midriff helps with recognizing where each part goes and what it does.
    The grey lace underlay turns the draping into an indistinguishable knotted mass and thus ruins the idea of the dress.

    So as much as I applaud the effort of not flashing bare skin at an official event, she (or her seamstress) should probably have gone for a different colour (white, black or a darker grey maybe) or fabric (something opaque) for filling the gap.
    Additionally I agree that it looks a bit long for her.

    •  Melanie

      I voted for runway because of the color distinction between the elements there; I agree it feels more structured and intentional there, a lot less messy overall.

  8. Sandra

    For the event, I dislike the way she wore less than I dislike the runway version. But is isn’t actually good or anything. Did Georgina Chapman ever design anything that worked properly and didn’t look totally craze-balls? Or is she paid-up member (along with StelMac) of the Women With Wealthy and Famous Dads or Husbands, But Not Much Talent Club?

  9. Crystal

    I haven’t seen the rest of the collection, but was Marchesa going for a sari with this? Only time in which a midriff is acceptable on a grown woman whose name isn’t Gwen Stefani.

    • Mallie

      What kind of arbitrary rule is that? I think there’s certainly a place for bare midriffs as long as one is young and fit enough to carry it off.

  10.  Lizzy

    I wish it were in a more interesting color (especially given the sari inspiration). The silver makes it look mother of the bride’ish.

  11. Kate

    I don’t love either of them, but the runway is working very slightly better. Shorter, yes, and more intentional, and either the lighting was different or a slightly different chiffon was used in the drapery piece. The faintly purple tone of the runway drape adds some much-needed dimension, and I like the dark purple-y shoes with it much better than Julie Bowen’s matchy ones. I’m usually all for a column of monochromatic colour, but not here.

  12. zut

    I voted runway because I can’t abide the unholy marriage of a blue-grey with a yellow-grey. The swaddling ought to have been another color altogether.

  13. Livvie93

    I like the runway version better, but on Dakota Fanning, maybe. I think Bowen’s version works better for her.

    •  LT1

      She wears some loony toon stuff, but she does usually dress as an adult, doesn’t she? That’s refreshing in and of itself. (I’m probably forgetting some major sheer thing.)

  14. Sajorina

    I like Julie’s version of the dress a lot better! I think she looks beautiful, elegant and comfortable! And her styling is better too! Julie FTW!

  15.  ita

    Yes I get the sari evocation too, but I think Julie’s version works well with the basic frame of a sari and fills it in with that delicate grey fabric. In fact it reminds me of how the women around me drape the sari more ‘conservatively’ in everyday life, where the midriff is not constantly showing. When sari fabrics are thinner and filmier (but not netlike) and there is the suggestion of bare skin under the detail/embroidery, it’s much more beautiful to me. That’s the image coming through here and it’s very pretty.

    My only problem is with the length.

  16.  cath

    I have so many complaints about this dress, and most of those start and end with “Marchesa.” In terms of the midriff, I’d love to have seen a happy-medium option on Bowen. The swath of skin could have been reduced to a sliver, and the sari reference would have remained intact. But the runway version gets an edge because the sheer drapey bit in that one is such a pretty purple.

    Ultimately, there’s no winner here. Marchesa will always look to me like what happens when a little girl, her grandmother’s fancy tablecloth, and a whole lot of safety pins are left alone without adult supervision.

  17. Allie

    I’m distracted by her stomach being a completely different color than the rest of her. Did Marchesa add a modesty panel that doesn’t match or something?

  18.  Angela

    Marchesa no.

  19. Alex

    I like the real life version, mainly because it looks less like a sarong than the runway version.

  20.  HelenBackAgain

    I appreciate the added modesty, but the “nude” panel underneath the middle area is weird, and, well, it’s just an ugly, musty horror either way.

  21. gryt

    People like it better in reality, what??? It’s atrocious.

  22.  Kristin

    Since Julie is the only celebrity I’ve ever seen in person, I can attest to her tiny frame — honestly, she could wear children’s clothes — so she could certainly pull off the runway Marchesa version, especially if she shortened it a bit. I still give her props for choosing modesty, even if it doesn’t completely work.

  23. Electric Landlady

    I voted runway mainly based on the length. It’s way too long on Julie here.