‘The dress you wear once is as important as the dress you wear 500 times,’ imparted designer Mary Katrantzou during her recent talk at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, ‘as long as you’re doing it all.’
The Greek designer, now a London resident and particular highlight of London Fashion Week, was in conversation with the museum’s curator, Dennis Nothdruft, before a room filled with fashion fans old and young. And what a packed conversation it was, as the designer, dressed head-to-toe in black as ‘an antidote’ to all the colour she works with, covered all aspects of her working life in a scant forty five minutes, mostly due to her rapid-fire discourse (impressive considering English is not her first language).
Having begun her career studying architecture at the Rhodes Island School of Design, Katrantzou felt in need of a change and applied for a semester abroad at Central Saint Martins in London. There, she dipped her toe into fashion for the first time and was later accepted onto the MA course under the infamous Professor Louise Wilson.
After graduating, Katrantzou locked herself in what she refers to with a smile as ‘fashion jail’ – her first studio in Hackney Wick – and began working on her line. Her now famous interiors collection for Spring/Summer 2011 could have been the end of it all – she recalls journalist Sarah Mower popping in for a sneak peak and, on seeing Katrantzou’s lampshade skirts, with their bulbous shapes and swinging tassels, coming over rather quiet. ‘She later said she thought my career was over!’ admits the designer. Luckily, it all came together on the runway and Mary’s foray into chintz was well received.
From then, it has been up all the way, with Katrantzou’s Autumn/Winter 2011 collection pushing her further into the forefront, its pieces graced with ever more intricate prints soon seen on the likes of January Jones, Leelee Sobieski and even Keira Knightly, who ‘wore it elegantly’ in spite of the match perhaps being ‘an unlikely marriage.’
When not working on the upcoming season, on the long list of orders for stockists, or on bespoke pieces for the likes of Elizabeth von Thurn und Taxis, who Katrantzou dressed for this year’s Met Ball (in addition to The Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks), the designer looks to the future of her line. What does she want it to become? ‘Hopefully a global brand that can look into accessories,’ she declares.
And menswear? ‘We haven’t put an official date to that…’
Katrantzou-fever being what it is, there is sure to be a queue around the block when she gets her calendar out, and I for one will be in it.
All images © 2012 Mary Katrantzou. All rights reserved.