The catwalk and backdrop were lined with baby pink and grey sponge, reminiscent of the protective casing used when transporting precious objects. This collection was particularly sculptural and the dearth of Katrantzou’s usual embellishments caused the designs to somehow seem more fragile. “Minimal, clean and linear” was the order of this season and despite the usual lengthy show notes of references, Mary Katrantzou exercised restraint on application.
Minimal not maximal:
Dealing with the notions of wealth and luxury is not simply fanciful for Katrantzou but practical. “I was interested in how luxury was perceived to be in the Victorian times as compared to now,” she explained backstage, “I wanted to explore the use of silhouette and playing with bustles and corsets, while also using a more current classic shape like the duffle coat.” The discovery of the horror vacui art movement – particularly the work of Joe Coleman – inspired her to extract the minimal from the maximal. “It’s almost like you need to show restraint today in order to show your refinement,” said the designer.
The grey area:
If Katrantzou is kenophobic it explains her deft hand at engineering full-on prints and her capacity for integrating far-flung references into her own cultural melting pot. However, she insists it is the grey area between any extremes that influences her – unlike literal juxtaposition she said, it is about finding a seamless combination, so that something truly new can be created. Indeed there was a big play on contrasts: matte fabrics and shiny PVC, coloured floral fur and geometric motifs, duffle coats and corsets, classic brocades and plastic flowers, to name just a few. Focusing on shape and texture is necessary for the designer in dealing with fakes – an issue that plagues the company. Making it all work together was the challenge but necessary for this intelligent inventor who has been so focused on inverting the perceptions of taste and aesthetics, as well as those associated with herself as a designer.