Cocktail Attire For The Cool Set
Why the stylish, young and savvy choose Markarian for evenings out—and Instagram.

by Tatiana Hambro

Cocktail Attire For The Cool Set
Why the stylish, young and savvy choose Markarian for evenings out—and Instagram.

by Tatiana Hambro

You have an event coming up. It could be your friend’s wedding in England, or your boyfriend’s friend’s wedding in Positano. Maybe it’s the charity lunch your mother organizes on the Upper East Side. Or the trendy art party you attend every year. Or a big New Year’s Eve bash. Whatever it is, the bottom line is this: you need a new dress. One that’s formal-ish, modern and, above all else, has enough wow factor that means you're actually willing to invest in something new.

But where to find it?
 

You have an event coming up. It could be your friend’s wedding in England, or your boyfriend’s friend’s wedding in Positano. Maybe it’s the charity lunch your mother organizes on the Upper East Side. Or the trendy art party you attend every year. Or a big New Year’s Eve bash. Whatever it is, the bottom line is this: you need a new dress. One that’s formal-ish, modern and, above all else, has enough wow factor that means you're actually willing to invest in something new.

But where to find it?
 

Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill

Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill

Such is the sartorial dilemma all too familiar to women in their twenties and thirties. Alexandra O’Neill, 32, was one of them. She founded her luxury eveningwear label Markarian in 2017 because she was "looking for something that was beautiful, well-made, flattering and exciting to wear—something that not everyone else had."

“Ali”, as she’s known to friends, now creates what she and her circle of sophisticated young New Yorkers were desperately looking for, but could never find: “Every piece in the collection is something that I would wear or that I felt was lacking in my wardrobe". Almost overnight, Markarian achieved buzz-worthy status. Moda Operandi picked it up for a trunkshow and Vogue.com ran pictures of Emma Roberts and Emily Ratajkowski in the embellished slip dresses from the debut collection.

Such is the sartorial dilemma all too familiar to women in their twenties and thirties. Alexandra O’Neill, 32, was one of them. She founded her luxury eveningwear label Markarian in 2017 because she was "looking for something that was beautiful, well-made, flattering and exciting to wear—something that not everyone else had."

“Ali”, as she’s known to friends, now creates what she and her circle of sophisticated young New Yorkers were desperately looking for, but could never find: “Every piece in the collection is something that I would wear or that I felt was lacking in my wardrobe". Almost overnight, Markarian achieved buzz-worthy status. Moda Operandi picked it up for a trunkshow and Vogue.com ran pictures of Emma Roberts and Emily Ratajkowski in the embellished slip dresses from the debut collection.

Buzz factor aside, Markarian—which tends to spotlight traditionally feminine cuts—looks great on everyone. Seriously. The best-selling corset dress is the brand signature. It's nip-waisted silhouette holds you in in all the right places (trust me, I've tried it) and has a reputation for flattering all body types. Feeling good in the clothes is of paramount importance to O'Neill, especially as she's her own poster girl, "I design for my friends and, selfishly, for myself" says the 5’3” designer. "I love to find ways to accentuate the assets that people feel most confident about—whether that's with a plunging neckline or a fitted waist."

Buzz factor aside, Markarian—which tends to spotlight traditionally feminine cuts—looks great on everyone. Seriously. The best-selling corset dress is the brand signature. It's nip-waisted silhouette holds you in in all the right places (trust me, I've tried it) and has a reputation for flattering all body types. Feeling good in the clothes is of paramount importance to O'Neill, especially as she's her own poster girl, "I design for my friends and, selfishly, for myself" says the 5’3” designer. "I love to find ways to accentuate the assets that people feel most confident about—whether that's with a plunging neckline or a fitted waist."

Emma Roberts and Emily Ratajkowski in Markarian’s debut collection

Emma Roberts and Emily Ratajkowski in Markarian’s debut collection

“My clients love the ease and relaxed, understated glamour of Markarian” says celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger, who works with everyone from Constance Wu (the star of Crazy Rich Asians) to Meryl Streep. “There’s a sense of whimsy and a cool-girl attitude which makes them swoon.” Such “swoon factor” is currently attracting women in droves. Much of it is found in the playful fabrics, which O'Neill hunts down on her textile excursions to Paris and Italy. Style arbiters, from the actor Thandie Newton to the poet Cleo Wade, look to Markarian for dresses that stand out at events. Their stylist, Erin Walsh, admires the brand's fresh take on feminine eveningwear: "We really gravitate towards them for their FAB textures—especially the sparkly ones!"

“My clients love the ease and relaxed, understated glamour of Markarian” says celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger, who works with everyone from Constance Wu (the star of Crazy Rich Asians) to Meryl Streep. “There’s a sense of whimsy and a cool-girl attitude which makes them swoon.” Such “swoon factor” is currently attracting women in droves. Much of it is found in the playful fabrics, which O'Neill hunts down on her textile excursions to Paris and Italy. Style arbiters, from the actor Thandie Newton to the poet Cleo Wade, look to Markarian for dresses that stand out at events. Their stylist, Erin Walsh, admires the brand's fresh take on feminine eveningwear: "We really gravitate towards them for their FAB textures—especially the sparkly ones!"

Roll call: celebrity fans include Hilary Rhoda, Millie Bobby Brown and Ashley Graham

Roll call: celebrity fans include Hilary Rhoda, Millie Bobby Brown and Ashley Graham

O’Neill jokes that she dresses like a Disney princess—such is her penchant for a sequin or two. However, her irreverent style is exactly what makes Markarian a magnet for the younger generation of women. These days, occasion wear needs to look as great—no, it needs to look better—on camera than it does in real life. (And let's face it, an LBD is never going rack up as many Instagram likes as a multicolored sequined mini.) With tempting high street prices at one end and a wealth of vintage available on the other, the stylish, young and savvy will only part with their dollars for serious wow factor. In this, O’Neill delivers. As Walsh says, “It’s definitely a brand that, when someone wears it, you get a, ‘who makes THAT?’ kind of response." 

O’Neill jokes that she dresses like a Disney princess—such is her penchant for a sequin or two. However, her irreverent style is exactly what makes Markarian a magnet for the younger generation of women. These days, occasion wear needs to look as great—no, it needs to look better—on camera than it does in real life. (And let's face it, an LBD is never going rack up as many Instagram likes as a multicolored sequined mini.) With tempting high street prices at one end and a wealth of vintage available on the other, the stylish, young and savvy will only part with their dollars for serious wow factor. In this, O’Neill delivers. As Walsh says, “It’s definitely a brand that, when someone wears it, you get a, ‘who makes THAT?’ kind of response." 

The best-selling corset dress from Resort ’18 (left) reimagined for Spring ‘19 (right).

The best-selling corset dress from Resort ’18 (left) reimagined for Spring ‘19 (right).

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