Every once in a while comes a designer who changes fashion, turning ‘don’ts’ into ‘dos’ and creating new must wear styles, shapes and staples that are snapped up by those who can afford them and emulated by those who can’t. Mary Katrantzou is one of these designers, whose unique approach to print and structure has seen her quickly become one of the most sought after designers of the moment.
Katrantzou was born in Athens in 19893 to an interior designer mother and a father who trained in textile design. She moved to America to study for a BA in architecture at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, before transferring to London’s Central Saint Martins to complete her BA in textile design. During this time, she worked on a freelance basis as a print designer for Bill Blass. Graduating from her BA in 2005, Katrantzou shifted her direction from textile design to womenswear, focussing on print. Working with Sophia Kokosalaki for two seasons in 2006, she also developed her portfolio for the Central Saint Martins MA fashion course, which she graduated from in 2008 with distinction.
Katrantzou opened the Central Saint Martins graduation show in 2008 and the collection mapped out what has become her signature style. it was themed around ‘trompe l’oeil’ prints of oversized jewellery featured on jersey bonded dresses. The pieces created the illusion of wearing giant neckpieces, too heavy to be worn in reality. She also designed real jewellery made out of wood and metal that were exact replicas of the prints. Her first ready-to-wear collection debuted at London Fashion Week in Spring/Summer 2009 with the support of the British Fashion Council and the New Gen Scheme. Despite the collection consisting of just nine dresses, Katrantzou was snapped up by 15 prestigious stockists, including Browns and Collette.
Her incredibly popular, thematic collections revolve around an icon of luxury, an object from art or design that a woman would not be able to wear if it were real. Mary has based her collections around perfume bottles, artisan blown glass and eighteenth century society paintings. Each collection is complimented by a capsule jewellery line with the same play of illusion and effect, allowing her to indulge her other great talent as a jewellery designer.
With her recent collaboration with Topshop selling out in a matter of hours and her pieces spotted on stylish celebrities such as Alexa Chung and Keira Knightley, Mary Katrantzou’s star is set to continue to rise.