The wonder of Mary Katrantzou is her exuberance, energy and daring. Elizabethan corsets, Victorian bustles, peplums, godet-hemmed skirts, hourglass waists, flouncing capes – and that’s before we’ve even got to the colour and print and couture-quality embroidery.
So why not take everyday objects, thought Mary, each synonymous with a different colour, and elevate them, Mary-fy them? Hence, her concise colour sections of white, blue, green, yellow, red and black that featured prints of the mundane – a bath, spoons, clothes hangers, a mowed lawn, a typewriter, the numbers featured on an old fashioned dial phone – became objects of beauty.
Perhaps the most note-worthy – and it is difficult to pinpoint noteworthiness in this kind of bursting-at-the-seams visual equivalent of a 22 course taster meal at a multi-Michelin-starred restaurant – was the pencil skirt. Embroidered with pencils! Ha! Ha! The ‘petits mains’, or skilled seamstresses, at the Parisian couture embroiderers, Lesage, must have been chortling (or quite possibly swearing “Sacre Bleu!”) as they attached hundreds of inflexible yellow pencils to that skirt. And yes, it was the first time the prestigious atelier, owned by Chanel, had worked with a ‘young’ London designer.
What was new here? The knitwear – two incredible high-necked tube dresses, one in green, the other ivory, were knitted to resemble ornate Katrantzou prints, then lavishly embroidered with miniscule crystal beads. The silhouette occasionally softened too with swishing print trousers and long light-as-air capes that bounced and fluttered. ‘It was a much deeper collection in terms of shape and technique,’ she explained backstage, at the centre of the fashion mob.
True. And of course Katrantzou is in a league of her own on that score. Perhaps it is ridiculous to even suggest this – the restraining of an ultimately unique imagination - but I can’t help yearning for the day when Mary lets rip on a few ordinary shapes – shirt, jacket, coat, skirt, dress - that don’t include the swags and furbelows which, at the moment, provide the perfect canvas for her vision.
Just think what Mary might do with a humble pair of jeans.