“An embrace of her own cultural background re-contextualises Katrantzou’s signatures: her prints, her silhouettes, her heritage. The language is Mary Katrantzou, but the key is Greek,” read the final line of the press release at Mary’s Spring 2017 show on the third day of London Fashion Week in September. The designer is originally from Athens and worked against her instinctual denial to suppress her desire to pursue a Greek-inspired collection. Ranging from classicism to futurism, Mary explored the sixties in an undoubtedly modern fashion.
There was certainly a perversity to the collection—a new element to a Mary show. She spoke of “Thucydides and Clytemnestra on acid”, “jewelled Sparta warriors via Kubrick.” This twisted sensibility transmogrified form-fitting outfits into darker entities, rich in subtext. Mycenaean tales played out across the collection probingly—like a movie that stirs you, but draws you further in. The op-art prints instantly reminded one of imagery from Stanley Kubrick’s most memorable film The Shining. Although an esoteric reference, the hotel carpet was reminiscent of prints seen in the show on structured tops (which transported one back to Mary’s spring 2011 lampshade shapes) and on the endless legs of trousers.
The op-art ran through the entire collection but Mary reintroduced her second love—surface decoration—to further it. Having studied fashion textiles at Central Saint Martins, before that architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, her grasp of decoration allows her to proceed with gusto. “Fluid chainmail is mounted with lace and overprinted, exposing frames of psychedelic infused figures with hourglass silhouettes.” Her mesmerising use of panelling evoked a richness to a collection that already boasts a rigorous attention to detail, an unrelenting inclination for colour.
To complete her checkbox list of Katrantzou-isms, Mary honed in her tailoring skills. The sumptuously tailored trousers, the sinuous lines of skirts and the peplum evening gowns were prime examples of great tailoring. One of the final looks, a sharp blazer with Mycenaean embroidery over a tulle skirt with Versace-esqe printing was ostentatious beautiful, but refined and elegant. On the final look there wasn’t a thread in sight, the seamstresses meticulously concealing imperfections.
In previous collections the stylist categorised the three staples, effectively quarantining them. In the past that has worked wonders for the show. Here, they are mixed, and the execution didn’t always work out as intended. It was muddled and messy but a lesson learned nonetheless.
Viewing the show invokes an indescribable, inimitable feeling in the spectator. The soundtrack comprised of orchestral pieces oozing the drama of Greek tragedy—while also skewering the modern Yorgos Lanthimos—and segueing into the heartfelt Julee Cruise crooning ‘Mysteries of Love’, a song from the David Lynch film Blue Velvet, before concluding with Guns N’ Roses ‘Paradise City’. Her immersive soundscape transports one to a world like no other.
On face value—which is how we perceive everything nowadays—this show was a print-tastic, festival of colour and light. Once you peel back the layers you’re exposed to a thrilling, darker world. It’s always worth the effort with Mary.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com