london fashion week: mary katrantzou
(images via vogue)
okay. so while i’m fairly certain what i’m about to say will be misconstrued—these sorts of statements generally tend to be, after all—i want to assure you i’m not trying to front that i’m so edgy, or ahead of the curve, or anything else. after all, if it was, i would have heard of these designers before they got their various acts onto the runway, yes? so. with that in mind. i’ve been following greek designer mary katrantzou a number of seasons, both here on opt (see s/s 2011, f/w 2011, s/s 2012, f/w 2012), and before this blog started, and because i feel i have, in some ways, known her before she got so big, i think i’ll always have something of a special place for her.
and besides, homegirl is tremendously talented after all. but i must admit that, however much she tried to shake things up, explore new ideas and frontier(s) (sorry; couldn’t help it; one’s nothing to do with the other here) with her s/s 2013 collection which was presented, as ever, at london fashion week, i just really wasn’t feeling it on the level of her quirky, conceptual collections in seasons past. in other words, as she’s been coming up on the mainstream more each season, so too have her clothes been encroaching on that which is commercial, losing some of the original verve and zany quality…you know, the same story we often have with…indie designers, bands, etc…sigh.
but of course, i think we all know where most of the mainstream critics are to weigh in on the subject. cathy horyn of the nyt was surprisingly cheery in calling it “a good show,” adding that “(h)er hyper prints seemed more toned down this season as she dipped into the faded colors and patterns of postage stamps and currencies, like the old British pound note, that are no longer in circulation. The blues and greens looked rich; the shapes were generally clean, with A-line dresses, slim trousers and long, back-pleated vests.”
and us vogue offered that “(o)ften, normal eyesight isn’t enough to understand how Katrantzou has created her effects—and it became more difficult than ever when she switched to from stamps to riffing on the calligraphy, watermarks, and foil used in banknotes for evening. Out came a beautiful dark blue pantsuit with a sheen in a specially woven banknote jacquard; then a pairing of a silvery tunic top and pants—impeccable. Then what looked like multicolored beading on simple knitted short-sleeved dresses, again printed with an inexplicable iridescence.”
“A stamp’s serrated edges,” raved style, “provided a striking geometric border down the leg of slimline trousers. And the whorls and spirals of a banknote provided a luxurious pattern for a pantsuit in midnight blue brocade, especially when shot through with darkly sparkling Lurex. That particularly stunning outfit crystallized just how refined Katrantzou’s eye has become at abstracting pure form from her inspirations. But she has also mastered her materials to a quite ingenious degree. The finale featured one-of-a-kind pieces that paired metallic brocades and Swarovski crystal mesh printed with banknote designs. The process was almost impossibly complex, but the result was pure poetry, suggesting the golden shimmer of Byzantium”
and wwd simply related that the designer “used postage stamps from far-flung destinations such as Mongolia, Venezuela and Finland, and the aesthetic elements of international banknotes as the visual fodder for her collection. It gave fresh currency to the designer’s signature prints, presented on white backgrounds. Her silhouettes were clean, with bold A-line dresses making a big statement. Gorgeous evening gowns were made from twinkling Swarovski crystal-mesh that had been fused to silk brocade and printed with intricate patterns. A couple of damask trouser suits in navy and pearl were glamorously understated and had an androgynous appeal.”
elsewhere, uk vogue, too, was all astonishment: “Silhouettes were graphic - we had A-line swinging dresses that splayed from halter necks, with room enough for deep pockets; narrow trousers beneath sleeveless boxy blazers; breezy voluminous sleeves on bowling-style shirts; and later, metallic brocade tailoring to again add another new string - in this case an almost ordinary one - to her bow. In blue and green and an airy summer-friendly palette, this was just the right breath of fashion air for Katrantzou to have taken. There’s not really any stopping her.”
and according to the iht’s suzy menkes, “(t)he designer explained her focus on postage stamps and traditional bank notes, saying they are two items that are starting to disappear. The result was striking, deceptively simple and in phase with the body in a way that Ms. Katrantzou has never managed before. Stretched with digital enhancement across the body, the stamps especially looked beautiful; their patterns were placed with the designer’s customary skill. New were the laminated surfaces, which the designer described as ‘crystal mesh and painted glass.’”
finally, the guardian reported that “(p)hilatelic motifs – from parrots to butterflies, ocean waves to temples – made for an upbeat romp through tourist office iconography. Scallops and curlicues trimmed the garments as if they were individual stamps. Evening dresses used the inspiration in a less literal way, with sheeny foiled sections, elaborate calligraphic patterns and sharp pleats to resemble folded notes. Day-wear looked collectable, and evening-wear precious.” so. in the end, i’m glad the designer is getting some hardcore love for her good work, and that people appreciate her rare and creative eye. i just wish she didn’t have to give up some of her pizazz in order to accomplish that feat. even if i’m the only one to see it—each season, i feel a bit slipping like sand through the boardwalk planks.
(watch it all in motion here)