Friday, May 29, 2015

Mary Katrantzou Fall 2015

Mary Katrantzou who built her reputation on digitally printed designs, which, in turn, evoked a small revolution amongst the high street and copycat imitators. Her Fall collection for 2015 marks a departure from her signature style and an easy transition into baroque prints and impeccable silhouettes in wool. The runway itself was constructed from convoluted foam in cotton candy pink mirroring that incorporated into the accessories and details on some of the dresses. This elevation of a common, industrial material into high fashion is a mark of Katrantzou's genius or rather how easily the status of something can change within the realm of fashion week. What was even more impressive was the array of different hemlines as well as a twist on the humble duffel coat which was so popular three or so years ago. Since her spectacular splash onto the international runway Katrantzou has maintained a keen eye for colours which complement each other. As always her designs are busy without being overbearing and instead fantastical works of wearable art. 

While I have always throughout of embellishment in terms of more traditional medium such as embroidery or tacky mass-produced rhinestones I must admit Katrantzou has totally changed the game or how I see this form of ornamentation. I've always adopted a "more is more" approach when it comes to personal style, throwing caution to the wind and pairing unlikely patterns and colours but eccentric pieces seem more appealing than say, an entire outfit. Fashion houses are still reluctant to adopt the eccentric despite being popularized in part due to personal style blogs and social media. I understand why, however, there are considerable gains to be made when a brand creates something which is genuinely authentic and original. For this reason Mary Katrantzou will be etched in fashion folklore as a pioneer, whereas others who exclusively produce collections within digitally printed neoprene (cough cough Josh Goot) will remain a poor cousin. 

There's something particular satisfying about this collection as there is nothing quite like it (at least from the Fall 2015 season). I grew tired of the same 1970s aesthetic regurgitated in a jumble of suede, fringe and bohemian clothing, which enhanced the reputations of those who journeyed on the path less traveled by. Indeed, it made all the difference. It is somewhat frustrating when artists consistently are unable to produce something new and rely on revival and appropriation without any ingenuity or reinvention. In a way it creates a background noise of the fashion world but these brands are still able to persist due to commercial sales. I am happy to say that was not the case for Mary Katrantzou and although those chunky Mary Jane shoes do resemble that of Marques Almeida various colours echoing that of the clothes maintained interest. Blah Blah Blah in summary, variety is the spice of life.  

In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty fond of sequins but by far the most enchanting are the long and acicular or crescent shaped sequins reserved for only the prettiest of party dresses. Normally, or what I've observed as a fashion spectator, is that Fall/ Winter is seen as an opportunity to create wonderfully warm coats or focus on hemming and silhouettes rather than colour and texture. Only a few have been able to create warm coats without compromising their designs and Katrantzou seems to be one of them. Her most iconic designs as I have already alluded to feature designs borrowed from the stamp and currencies of a fictional country featured on streamline dresses. A large question mark loomed over the artist's ability to create clothes wearable during colder weather (which seems all the more pertinent given America's increasingly cold winter's and record-breaking weather). However, it seems any uncertainties or rumors have been put to rest and Katrantzou has blended functional coats with woolen hoop skirts, tights and chunky heeled shoes. Both function and frivolity can co-exist. 

The entire collection displayed pieces representative of an entire spectrum. So often we see a particular designer only curate clothing of the same intensity or which evokes the same types of feelings and yet here we can see both artful restraint and enthusiasm. This is largely in part due to the sheer number of different outfits as well as photographs taken throughout the duration of the presentation. Smaller collections or timing constraints place considerable strains on the ability of designer's to create and fulfill their vision for the season so while I praise Katrantzou for her work, her peers cannot necessarily afford to demonstrate the same flair. While I am more receptive to colour and texture I was made aware of the quiet dignity or some of the pieces with more simplistic styling. Minimalists would probably still feel confronted with the sheer volume of plastic mosaic or pumpkin coloured baroque swirls but to me it feels just right. 

Silk blended bodices were a late addition to the collection and a surprising one at that given the timing of this collection's release. However, I think a minimalist approach complements or is indeed the only way to go given the voluptuous curves of the skirts. It reminds me of this collection from Thom Browne without the stage presence and candor. If only the models had the same curvature, or that similar to a realistic adult woman (that criticism has more to do with an industry standard to which many prominent designers still contribute to). Controversies aside I liked the twist on plastic chokers which seemed more ornamental and removed from the festival scene and more akin to the era of Queen Victoria albeit shrunken down. It was a nice addition providing texture to the more simplified tops or continuing the motifs on some of the skirts. Due to the technical side of it's production there's a lesser chance of it being mass-produced in a factory on the provision that the jewellery is made available to the public at all. 

Detailed photos reveal the intricacies of these perspex designs, more similar to paper crafts than embellishment used to create complex floral wallpaper designs. Lacework was another prominent feature of many of the skirts but seemed less impressive by comparison given its contemporary and historic use. It was exciting to see something so delicate become a permanent fixture within a collection for Fall/Winter rather than a passing curiosity or seeming too gimmicky or like a costume. On closer inspection the collection is even more spectacular than one could have originally managed, again complemented by manicures in matching pedicures and unusual but minimalist eye makeup. While cat eyeliner remains a cult favourite my attention has now been turned to new and interesting ways of creating shapes and patterns around the eyes.
Another specific compliment aimed at this collection is of course reserved for the most fantastical of shoes featuring a grid pattern etched into luxurious red velvet. I was delighted by the texture of these shoes and the colours, but also glad the buckles were small and in silver. This was only heightened by the gorgeous cushioning of the runway which made a world of difference in terms of aesthetic tastes. The texture of these shoes was also gorgeous with grey velvet passing for matte black leather. In a word, I want them all and wish they were part of some spectacular imaginary school uniform or a Sailor Moon tribute band but given the costs (which I estimate to be considerable) it seems the only opportunity for such stunning visuals are a magazine editorial. The ribbed tights they were worn with were also cute and certainly more affordable and easy to replicate within my wardrobe, but I know in my heart of hearts it simply won't be enough.  

I thought I had fallen out of love with plastic fantastic accessories (you know the kind, plexi box purses churned out by the high street) but I was deadly wrong. Perhaps I am now viewing it in a different light but I don't plastic is by nature tacky. As a result of its accessibility it can be mass produced and has been used in a multitude of ways but nothing quite compares to this. I am eternally grateful for my brand spanking new phone charger which arrived in the nick of time but I am specifically talking about fashion. I want to see more things like Bjork's spectacular quill headpiece. It's a different medium but comparable in terms of delicate nature and overall effect despite being unattached to an emotionally charged album. Can you imagine how wild it would be if Mary Katrantzou combined her work with a master milliner though to produce a dreamy series of hats? I await with bated breath for the next exciting installment with dreams of what possible accessories could be conjured up for next year. 

Photos by Yannis Vlamos for Indigitalimages.com