Her dark materials

Monday 18 February 2013

Designers · News

Mary Katrantzou aw13

Across the PA system came a mild-mannered voice. “Sorry for the delay, but in the meantime we will play you a little music until the show can begin.” A typically whimsical start to a Mary Katrantzou show, promising an upbeat, witty and colourful collection. But who knew the graphic money-shots and the trompe l’oeil would be superseded by such a romantic, monochrome vision? Shadowy turn-of-the-century landscapes in film-noir black, covered by veils of softly coloured organza, were the motifs, and the mood was romantic, lyrical and almost melancholic.

“I found a new romantic softness for this collection that is not usually found in my work,” said Katrantzou backstage. It’s a distinct departure for this positive and energetic designer. “I am an optimistic person,” she said, laughing. “But I felt it was the mood of the season.”

Yes, the references were more reflective and more poetic thanusual – taken from the black-and-white photography of Steichen and Stieglitz and their treatment of landscape and subject matter – but the execution and technical wizardry were trademark Katrantzou. Mohair had been needle-felted, peppered with crystals, overprinted then hairsprayed, and the differing threads of embroidery and jacquard were digitally over-printed to create a tapestry effect. “Quite work-intensive,” said the designer. “But if
it isn’t laborious, it isn’t any fun, is it?”

Shapes were strongly sculptural, tailored and draped in a new way, cut directly on the mannequin and worked to create rigid bell shapes and asymmetric silhouettes, many draped in an extra organza layer. “I took an image of a black-and-white landscape and infused colour in an artificial way by superimposing ‘smoke bombs’ of fabric,” she said.

The result was a rainbow of monochrome on couture-like garments that proved Katrantzou can deliver the unexpected and still capture the heart of the fashion crowd.

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