If you possess even but a mote of interest in fashion, it is almost certain you would’ve heard the name of Mary Katrantzou. She has managed to exhaust all known superlatives, drowned in a sea of plaudits and accolaides with the release of only five ready to wear collections, and she isn’t even thirty yet; some might say she’s prodigious.
Katrantzou was born in Athens, Greece to an interior designing mother and a father trained in textile design; the professions of her parents are not only the genenis of her career, but they also stand as the pillars of her design ethos. In 2003 Katrantzou relocated to America to study for a BA in Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, before relocating again, this time to Central Saint Martins in London to complete a course in Textile Design. During this period, Katrantzou managed to sell a few of her designs to the acclaimed American fashion house, Bill Blass, famed for their exquisite tailoring and cutting edge concept of marrying textures and patterns. Upon graduating from her BA in 2005, Katrantzou decided to divert her skills from prints for interiors to prints for fashion, and in 2006 she worked at Sophia Kokosalaki for two seasons, attaining all there was to be attained and consciously building a portfolio for the Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Textiles course. She was accepted onto the course in 2007 and she opened the 2008 Central Saint Martins gradution show with a collection heavily influenced by Trompe l’oeil, a method consisting of realistic imagery that is presented to the viewer in a certain way, therefore fooling the eye with the illusion that the images are in three dimensions; how technical and artsy. The collection was hailed as fresh and exciting and was nominated for two prestigious awards, The L’Oreal and Harrods awards.
Katrantzou released her first ready to wear collection in autum/winter 2008 via a small NewGen stand at London Fashion Week with a batch of only 9 dresses. The expression “less is more” had never rung truer, those 9 dresses that she showed earned her 15 of the most coveted and prestigious stockists inlcluding, Browns, Joyce and Penelope. The sky really was the limit for the girl from Greece, spring/summer 2009 saw her attain show status via New Gen, an exclusive collection for Topshop that sold like hot cakes, numerous publications in magazines like, Vogue , Wallpaper*, Dazed and Confused and Grazia. The accolaides and recognition just came coming, in 2010 she was awarded the Swiss Textiles Award, nominated for the British Fashion Award and a finalist in the Dorchester Collection Prize.
I saw her Spring/Summer 2011 and I literally fell off my chair, it was that seminal and that good. Katrantzou’s Autumn/Winter 2011/12(see below) is something else, it belongs in another realm of beauty, a hyperrealistic aesthetic that serves a delectable feast for the eyes that is both delicate and intricate. In my opinion, some of the designs lie somewhere between the decadence of grandiose Baroque and the melting pot of a modern, chic London. For Autumn/Winter, Katrantzou imagined a woman wearing one of her dresses “as a connoisseur, surrounded by objects of beauty like Fabergé eggs, Meissen porcelain, cloisonné enamel, and Ming vases” and her inspiration from Diana Vreeland, coromandel screens and the interwar period. The Tropme l’oeil notion was omnipresent once again, and so it should be, it is concept that is awe inspiring and Katrantzou has used it to “push print above and beyond where we have seen it go before, clashing and contrasting, across garments, overwhelming the viewer, but never the wearer”. Without doubt, Katrantzou is an artist, painting pretty silhouettes and creating wearable art.
Images via Conde Nast and Fashion156.com