Merlin Castellâ€™s Midsummer Night Dream
By Laura Medina June 18, 2007
June 18, 2007 Merlin’s Midsummer Night Dream As a specially invited guest, I have an exclusive on Merlin Castell’s latest and bigger fashion show at MGM Grand’s Studio 54. It was a first of many. This is the first fashion show at Studio 54; and the first for Studio 54 to showcase a Latino fashion designer. This distinguished event is the perfect showcase for his new, more mainstream but ethereal collection. At midnight sharp, the fashion magician, Merlin Castell appeared on the red carpet with his bevy of fairies and goddesses, with their eyes fluttering in glittery turquoise and violet butterfly wings.
As the only Los Angeles reporter, I have the exclusive red carpet interview with the designer, himself, Merlin Castell and the president of his company, CEO Gary Barry, the wizard behind the scenes. For a man so instrumental in the machinery called, “Merlin Castell,” I asked him how he became involved. For him, it was awe at first sight. Before becoming Merlin’s CEO, Gary was a Hugo Boss sales associate. Attending Los Angeles Fashion Week five years ago, he first saw Merlin’s fledgling collection. So inspired, it was at that moment he decided to change his life. He made it his mission to manage this budding talent. In the five years since, this dynamic duo have focused on going strong as a stream engine, designing for emerging hot Latin celebrities, such as Gabriel Soto and rockers in the vein of Lenny Kravitz. Now that they’re established in the Latin market, they’re ready to grow and expose Merlin’s talent to the greater world. Showcasing at MGM Grand’s Studio 54 is their major step into a wider audience-the eager audience awaiting them at Studio 54. Gary Barry indicated this new collection signals a more commercial direction. Gary graciously introduced me to the wizard himselfMerlin Castell. Going from behind-the-scenes exclusive to red carpet exclusive made a big impact on this cub reporter. The elfin cute Merlin, equally modest, simply and sweetly said his latest creation was inspired by the medieval Arthurian folk tales of ethereal Celtic goddesses and waiflike fairies. The main source of his inspiration is Paramount Picture’s upcoming movie, “Stardust” for the holidays, debuting in October. Michelle Pfeiffier stars the evil witch-queen, Lamia. As for the more mainstream direction, Merlin was thinking of the more earthy concept of the “2-in-1 Dress.” Despite the wispy fragility of chiffon-dominated collection, the soft pleating hugs more varieties of shapes and bodies. With the asymmetrical skirts, Merlin offers an alluring cocktail dress at the front with a knee-length skirt that drapes behind and down to the ground as an evening gown where the wearer can get both of best worlds, a sprite short cocktail dress on the front and an elegant gown at the back. As he and his bevy of models appeared, they ephemerally vanished into the night club.
In a darken club, a pair of wood nymphs descend on trapeze swings, gently rocking back and forth mid-air. As soon as they appear, they fade back into the night as soon as the first outfit materializes, a spangled wrap, crop jacket in celery green with a low-rise chiffon asymmetrical long skirt. Followed by a deep-V neck halter gown with restrained pearl embroidery at the bust, Merlin is delving further back into fashion history from Late Renaissance and Old Hollywood to Ancient Celts, Greeks, Egyptian, and Turkish harems and bellydancers. Trailing behind an indigo Egyptian calasiris with a thigh-high slit and train, is a tight Turkish kaftan with a deep-v neck bodice in translucent papaya chiffon with long, tight sleeves that turn into elbow-length lantern sleeves. The Turkish touch is topped off by a matching papaya fez. The bellydancer influence pops up in a cherry red number.
Amid the pleated, tie-knot, shoulder strapped Hellenistic chiton gowned goddesses, a rosette halter mini dress in baby blue bursts out. Then, a full-sleeved gown with a v-neck wrap coated in embroidered flowers with a sprinkling of sequins on the sides. Whether they are floor-length Grecian shoulder knot gowns or asymmetrical mini dresses, they all have sequin motifs in organic shapes of octopuses or rose buds, either risqué placed at the nipple with trails training across the torso curving around the hip or dainty darted at the shoulder. Maybe this is also the practicality that Merlin is also accounting for, gems and necklaces sewn into the bodices. As for the sequin-free dresses, they’re coated in overlays of tulle. The flouncy draping fits most women’s bodies. This collection is less hard-edge than the previous one in April, with the sugary confection of tulle and chiffon replacing metallic pleating, but it is still feminine and wearable. The crowd cheers for a sexy number consisting of two canary yellow pleated straps crisscrossing the model’s naked torso, enough to cup her breasts then tying everything up at shoulder knots, without anything falling out. Scanty, but a real test of Merlin’s construction expertise. This is the real goddess gown. Merlin, himself, reaches back into Ancient and recent Middle Eastern cultures. The high priest of fashion steps out for the finale in an Egyptian kilt (a schenti) in a white Modal knit.