Hazine

20.12.2015 - Katherine Koniecki

Designer

OPTIC BLISS

THINGS ARE EXACTLY AS THEY SEEM IN MARY KATRANTZOU’S BOLD AND BLISSFUL WORLD. THE SURREALIST DIGITAL PRINTS THAT CATAPULTED HER NAMESAKE KEEP THE MOMENTUM CONSISTENT WITH HER EVER-EVOLVING EYE.

The press ravaged her trompe l’oeil pioneering mark and the designer’s acclaim has skyrocketed since her collection debut back in 2009. A solid mix of academics and working through her practice was the formula that pinned her direction down and Katrantzou’s distinct point of view has since seen an exciting evolution go beyond much more than prints alone.

ARCHITECTURE OPENS

She left her native stomping ground of Athens, Greece in 2003 to study Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, U.S.A, which quickly led to another jump over the pond when she transferred her B.A. to Textile Design at London’s Central Saint Martins. With a solid understanding of interior design under her belt, she soon began to explore how rug, carpet and wallpaper design could be applied to clothing. Digital print had not yet erupted with the vigour known now, so Katrantzou decided to seize the digital realm on her own. She taught herself Photoshop and other rendering techniques that eventually evolved into her golden fingerprint. Advanced in her printing capacity, she decided to take it further with fashion and applied for the M.A. Fashion Design program at Central Saint Martins. Highly anticipated and scheduled each year as part London Fashion Week, she opened her 2008 graduating year’s Central Saint Martins M.A. show and word of her collection thundered through the blogosphere.

INTERIOR VOICE-OVER

Katrantzou’s graduation collection swept her directly into production. After receiving rave international press from fashion critic Sarah Mower among others, she applied for the British Fashion Council’s NewGen funding and got it. Her fall 2009 collection swept in a printed utopia of oversized jewelry and found objects like perfume bottles that wrapped the models in giant gems with a futuristic angle. Going against the grain of the fashion moment minimalism of the time, Katrantzou had overcome a huge milestone in convincing her audience of her maximalist approach. By working through her designs and striking a synergy with print while keeping her clothing lines clean, she was able to nail a commercially viable pocket which led to her breakthrough collection. For spring 2011, she raised interior archive image from vintage issues of ‘Architectural Digest’ and ‘World of Interiors’ onto lampshade-shaped skirts and dress trains that mimicked curtains. Yet another milestone had been cracked and Katrantzou had persevered in her vision with a sense of fearlessness. The risk paid off and her 15 stockists catapulted to 200 among the firsts: Browns, Collette and Asia’s retailer Joyce had already scooped up Mary’s first collection. Collaborations began to flood in including a bag partnership with Longchamp, which sold out at Collette immediately and offered Katrantzou a pivotal look into the accessory design process.

PRINTED EVOLUTION

Italian style icon Anna Dello Russo immediately swept up a piece from Katrantzou’s breakthrough collection and she was snapped wearing a perfume bottle dress on the coveted style blog, The Sartorialist. For spring 2013, Katrantzou garnered a sparkly collaboration. Together with Swarovski elements, her first non-printed foray into brocade employed the dazzling engineering of crystal mesh to communicate world history and currency exchange. Challenging her capabilities beyond the sole print saturation, Katrantzou caught the strategic foresight to give her collections a new spin. Fall 2014 saw her move a much more textured approach to her work, veering away from prints as the sole product offering and toward embroidery, brocades and jacquards. A new core brand language began to evolve within Mary Katrantzou’s world.
Spring 2015 convened her design sensibility with her Greek sense of classism, which she cites to have influenced her sense of symmetry and balance. The collection brought forth a Katrantzou vision of the supercontinent of Pangaea. Greek infused narratives infused life in the clothes before the shift inspiring colours of sand, sparkle, stone, fragments and fractals, morphing, foliage and animal embroidery, wild creatures and tectonic plates. Katrantzou’s imaginative narratives have found a common language among her commercial success.

FORGING LIGHTS FORWARD

As a designer, Mary Katrantzou has been involved in the strategic process of building a solid team since her first studio in Hackney with two interns by her side. Now, with a team of 55 people and a recent British Fashion Council Vogue Fashion Fund win, she has just appointed a new design director, Simon Simonton, who previously forged his tracks at Tom Ford, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. Trino Verkade, former Executive Vice President at Thom Browne, has also joined Mary Katrantzou as the company’s new CEO. With the goal of solidifying suppliers as well as the brand's distribution chain, she has plans to diversify Katrantzou’s design language across a greater range of products and prices points with the end goal of making the name more accessible alongside her higher end couture. As for the signature Katrantzou image-play, the facet is one that will continue to be engrained in the brand’s DNA.

Short Facts

Trademark

Mary Katrantzou designs for women who have, “a liberated spirit and a strong sense of style”. Her unstoppable trompe l’oeil prints have been the industry talk since her graduate collection at Central Saint Martins in 2008. She has been dubbed ‘Queen of Prints’ and her trademark digital technique has since branched off into unique brocades, jacquards and embroideries. 

Distinctiveness

Her early print work applied digital collage in an artistic and painterly way. She built up her digital map of found objects and used the mouse to apply brushstrokes to the finish.

Awards and Recognition

In 2015 she won the New Establishment Designer Award by the British Fashion Council and received sponsorship from the Vogue Fashion Fund.
In 2011 she won the Emerging Talent Ready-to-Wear award at the British Fashion Awards.
She won the Swiss Textile Award in 2010.
She was awarded The British Fashion Council’s NewGen sponsorship upon graduation from Central Saint Martins in 2008, which offered her funding for six full seasons.
She was nominated for Harrods and L’Oréal Professionnel Award in the same year.

Anecdote

Mary Katrantzou designed costumes for dancers in the New York City Ballet with a crew of fellow designers Carolina Herrera, Sarah Burton, and Thom Browne. The idea was initiated by Sarah Jessica Parker, who sits on the ballet’s board as a Vice Chair. In a Project Runway-like setup, each choreographer teamed up with a designer to create a unique look that would be functional on stage. Katrantzou’s creation took the form of a skin-toned lace-appliquéd leotard and the performance debuted in New York around the same time as the Paris spring 2015 shows.

Mary Katranzou Fall Winter 2015

Timeline

1983 - Born

Mary Katrantzou is born in Athens, Greece.

2003 - Architecture

She moves to the U.S. to study Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

2005 - London

She transfers to Central Saint Martins in London and graduates with a B.A. degree in Textile Design.

2008 - Fashion Cuts

During her degree she begins experimenting with prints for clothing, which leads her to pursue an M.A. in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins. She opens the show of her graduating class and is awarded the British Fashion Council’s NewGen sponsorship.

2009 - Gems

Mary Katrantzou hits the ground running, going straight into production following her graduation from Central Saint Martins, she produces her first Spring/Summer 2009 collection with the visual images of oversized jewels and fragrance bottles. Her nine piece collection is picked up by 15 stores including Collette, Joyce and Browns.

2010 - Swiss

Katrantzou is awarded the Swiss Textile Award. 

2011 - Interiors

Her Spring/Summer 2011 collection models interior prints and objects includes lampshade skirts, which garners major press for the Mary Katrantzou label. The designer collaborates with artist Pablo Bronstein and designs a series of costumes for his performance titled, ‘Sketches of Regency Living’, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. 

2012 - Longchamp

For Spring/Summer 2012, Mary Katrantzou collaborates with bag label Longchamp in a limited edition printed series that merges her prints with the theme ‘east meet west’.  She collaborates with Topshop on a capsule collection in the same year. 

2013 - Crystal Collaborations

Katrantzou collaborates with Swarovski to producing a crystal studded collection inspired by global exchange and currency. In the same year she collaborates with brand Current/Elliott on a ready-to-wear line inspired by her own label’s Spring/Summer 2013 bank note and currency collection. It was the first time the designer dives into working with denim. She strikes up a Moncler outerwear collaboration in the same year.

2014 - Adidas

The designer begins a collaboration with Adidas Originals.  

2015 - Milestones

This is a significant year for Mary Katrantzou’s label and she appoints a new CEO to take the brand global.

Photo:

@ Mary Katrantzou

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