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Markarian Reimagines 'The Birth of Venus' for the Gala Circuit

The intersections between fine art and fashion are well-documented, the list of designers name-checking visual artists in collection notes endless. Many collections “inspired by” a specific body of work are pretty literal. Pulling from one of the most well-known paintings in the world for her Spring 2024 collection, Markarian‘s Alexandra O’Neill knew she couldn’t do a straightforward tribute. 

“I didn’t want it to smack you across the face,” she says, of the ways her latest debut reflects the source material: Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” “But there’s something very regenerative about the sea, and I always go back to this idea of regeneration and rebirth for spring — as everybody does. Coming out of winter, especially when you’re living in New York, it feels exciting, to switch out your wardrobe and wear something new and pretty and light. It just feels like you’re emerging from the depths of freezing cold New York City.”

So, O’Neill pulled at specific elements of the painting that weren’t Venus or her shell, such as the floral cloak the Hora of Spring is throwing onto the goddess for some of the prints (and a new cloak-dress shape) and the sea she’s floating on for certain embellishments and flairs (like a seaweed-esque ruffle hem, the pattern on the jacquard, the abstract sequins arranged to look like foam) to inform the design direction.

“I really wanted to find this marriage between the sea and florals,” she says, “and this is the perfect way to do it.”

Dresses, unsurprisingly, make up the majority of the collection. (They’re the brand’s bestsellers, O’Neill confirms — and she just loves them.) But even working within a familiar category, she’s pushing for novelty, introducing fits that may be new to the Markarian customer, like a drop-waist fitted bodice midi and an open-back gown that wraps around the shoulders. 

“When I’m designing a collection, I really think about what it is that I want to wear, what I think is missing in my wardrobe, what I’m excited about,” she says. “I try to give that our clients. I’ll wear something for a whole season or a whole year, and I’ll make small tweaks to the things that I know that I love and try to make them better — a little bit different every season, in the sense where I feel excited about them again. I’m thinking about it all the time, and I’m showing it to lots of different people. You get tired of things pretty easily. It’s important to try to rethink what it is that feels good on you.” 

Lately, O’Neill has felt inspired by ’60s shapes, and that translated into some of the new silhouettes for Spring 2024. “We were saying it’s like the Birth of Venus is a little flower child,” she jokes. It’s like Venus was born in the Swinging Sixties, and now has to get dressed to hit the gala circuit in the city.

See the full Markarian Spring 2024 collection, below.

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

Markarian Spring 2024. Photo: Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy/Courtesy of Markarian

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Source: Fashionista.com

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