Mary Katrantzou made a brave move with this collection. No prints. Actually, she’s done that before (twice). What she hasn’t done before is no prints AND modernism. And yet, for all the new challenges she set herself, this collection was still unmistakably, brilliantly Mary.
Only she would think to splice Horror Vacui ('fear of the empty' or, in visual art terms, the filling of an entire surface or art form with detail) with high-tech – and produce beautiful clothes in the process. So she looked at the Victorians, their love of excessive decoration, and decided to splice that with modern times – our minimalist restraint when it comes to excessively priced luxury (stealth wealth). Then she inverted the two.
So traditional Victorian pieces such as the long bustle skirt and corset were given the modernist treatment. There were no seams on those corsets, rendered with the help of a car textile manufacturer, and the skirts were plain, save the deep frilled hems that kicked out as the models walked, and the single strip of pink injection-moulded foam on one hip – the same pink foam (shipped in from China) was used to carpet the catwalk.
Then she took modern classics – the clean rectilinear-shaped duffle coat, parka, shift dress – and embellished them with the fervour of a decadent Victorian hellbent on demonstrating her social status. Only, here, she used the most techy fabrics she could lay her hands on: tubular threads of PVC were manipulated into a damask pattern, transparent hexagonal plastic skirts resembled insulation panels that looked as if they could be of use to a NASA space craft.
But here’s where Mary’s excellence as an experienced, confident designer comes in – while the concept was complex, the clothes were not. In fact, despite the richest and techiest of fabrics colliding, sometimes on a single piece, the clothes looked easier to wear than ever.
It was a triumph of texture, colour and shape; every piece a cherished heirloom in the making.