Having read the review in Vogue Runway; Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 by Sarah Mower, I found and listened to Mary Katrantzou’s TedxAthens 2012 Talk; Challenge yourself to define your limits (see video below).
Whilst she talks at length about philosophical and practical limits which she fought to against to develop herself and her brand she also touches upon key interests and theme’s within her work. Mary Katrantzou was born in Athens, and initially began her creative journey by studying towards a BA in Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design. She transferred part way through to Central Saint Martins to complete a BA in Textile Design. Following on from this she graduated in MA Fashion from Central Saint Martins being awarded distinction.
Her MA collection featured printed dresses which played with tromp d’oeil jewellery. It was this collection that really helped her to marry together ides of shape and print in creating strong designs with an element of visual illusion or trickery. There’s an interesting interview with her after the MA show with fashion magazine Dazed – Mary Katrantzou Does Pretty Robots by Alexa Hall.
Katrantzou taught herself how to use photo-shop to apply digital patterns initially to interiors and subsequently onto female clothing.See’s her practice as a marrying of the theoretical and a practical approach to fashion. It’s clear from her Ted talk that she’s driven to test and push boundaries in print and textiles. With each collection her technical expertise develops and she pushes herself into different avenues, not just pursuing print design but thinking about new shapes and approaches to women’s wear.
Her Fall 2011 RTW collection was a critical success and in another Vogue Review by Tim Blanks talks about the collection being about ‘the woman in the room’ as opposed to ‘the room on the woman’. I think this is referring to the collection having a greater focus on how textiles are used, in terms of shape and drape on the female figure as opposed to the garment simply being another surface (much like any interior surface) on which to place a print. I think the collection marked a significant turning point for Katrantzou away from interior design to women’s wear/fashion design.
It’s clear looking at her collections since 2008 and 2011 Katrantzou is not a one trick pony, her drive to push the boundaries of print and her own understanding of how fashion works on the female form is consistently evident.
Her Spring 2016 RTW & Fall 2016 RTW collections are an example in point;
On the dress opposite embellishment and sequins are used to from pattern rather than digital printing methods. The silhouette and shape of the outfit are much more streamlined, sophisticated.
On the maroon coloured dress opposite texture, colour and shape become the dominant features (and print is unseen). A much heavier weighted material gives the dress a different drape than in previous outfits, showing an understanding of different fabrics.
The texture appears to be created almost by way of quilting or embossing a pattern onto the surface of the fabric. The solid single block of colour on the dress also marks a departure from the bold multi coloured dresses of Katrantzou’s previous collections.
In The Vogue Review of Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou by Sarah Mower, speaks of Katrantzou’s versatility; “in her intelligent way, senses the danger of being boxed into a trend. In this outing she also showed she can take on the challenge of proving she’s able to design without print, without colour and without embroidery or texture…Compared with the clothes she was making when she came out of CSM, this collection bore almost no relation stylistically.”
Print was more of a feature in her Fall RTW 2016 collection. However prints where taken to new levels in combination with other textile techniques. In the dress opposite print is married with embellishment in the form of sequins and new form is considered in the shape of a shirt dress.
The cut away details of the shoulders is also a different consideration of shape or form against the female figure.
In the design left, print and pattern are boldly applied to the surface of a (presumably fake) fur coat. The shift onto the form of the coat represents a step into considering other garment shapes beyond dresses for Katrantzou. It also represent’s her continued experimentation with different kinds of fabrics and textiles in women’s fashion.
The colours of the print are vivid but the shapes are kept simpler, fitting with the simpler outline or silhouette of the coat.
In the dress opposite the scale of print used is much smaller and subtler fitting with the lightness and drape of the fabric it’s printed on. I think here there’s an example of playing with volume, by using a lighter almost crepe fabric and pleating the skirt sits further away from the body.
It’s also a much more restrained colour palette than in previous garments or collections.
My final finding from research was an video of a conversation between Mary Katrantzou and Alexander Fury (then fashion editor of The Independent). They discuss her AW 2013 collection, but more revealingly she elaborates on her approach to designing women’s wear. To me it’s clear she’s interested in textiles, the treatment of fabrics, through print or embellishment, or distressing or pattern, and then secondly is interested in shape, how a fabric can be used on the female form.