Mary Katrantzou's Fashion Evolution
Dazzling digi-print specialist and ‘Queen of hyperreality’ Mary Katrantzou’s designs are a veritable day-trip for the eyes. Possible to stare at for longer than a magic-eye image, they have been likened to such optical illusions by more than one commenter. Her first season out of college the motifs were graphic perfume bottles, a later one renaissance paintings, then her break-through SS11 show featured interiors of rooms, including a lampshade skirt. This was followed by a collection of exaggerated themes from nature – floral fields, vivid aquariums and so on.
Her A/W 12 went one step further, having incorporated embroidery by Lesage as well as thousands of Swarovski Crystals, reaching a couture like level, with the theme being household objects, such as a typewriter, yellow pencils and an overflowing bathtub.
Unassuming but extremely enthusiastic in person, Mary Katrantzou was born in Athens in 1983, to an interior designer mother and a father who trained in Textile Design. She moved to America for a BA in Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003, before transferring to Central Saint Martins to complete her course, transferring to Textile Design.
Mary herself likes to joke that she took a rather circuitous route into fashion, and indeed it wasn’t until MA stage that she shifted her focus from prints for interiors to prints for fashion after working with Sophia Kokosalaki for two seasons. Then Mary returned to Central Saint Martins for the MA Fashion Textiles course.
Katrantzou opened the Central Saint Martins graduating show in 2008 with trompe l’oeil dresses featuring digital prints of oversized jewellery plus giant neckpieces made out of wood and metal, which were exact replicas of the prints on the dresses. The collection was nominated for both the Harrods and the L’Oreal Professional award.
Her first ready-to-wear collection was produced for autumn/winter 2008, and debuted at London Fashion Week through a New Gen sponsored stand. Despite a small collection of only nine dresses, Katrantzou picked up 15 prestigious stockists including Browns.
These days she now boasts over 60 stockists ranging from Corso Como to Barney’s. Her work has featured in publications including Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Wallpaper* and Grazia. Ruth Chapman, CEO of fashion boutique Matches, which sells out of Katrantzou's designs in hours - says ‘she cuts her dresses beautifully, so they fit and flatter the wearer, and secondly, her prints are extremely clever. They stand up as works of art in their own right, which makes her dresses highly collectable. Her designs always make me feel uplifted.’