When you attend fashion weeks there’s often a feeling of sifting through quite of bit of underwhelming clothing in search of that one collection which causes you to catch your breath. That full-on, heart-stopping fashion moment where angels sing, iPhone cameras melt down, and even the friends of the PR’s finally shut up.
In September 2010 I had one of those moments courtesy of Mary Katrantzou’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection. That collection. The one with the rooms. Close inspection underlined Mary’s genius further. The precision of the cutting and pattern matching. The carefully considered adornment, which only added to the trompe l’oeil effect. That stellar collection was the springboard to worldwide recognition. Now Hollywood A-listers and global megastars wear Mary Katrantzou, her collections are stocked all over the world and appear in magazine editorial on a regular basis. Mary Katrantzou is undeniably popular, and with that popularity come its own set of problems.
Fellow London designers Fyodor Golan have obviously felt similar pressure. Their early collections, lacking in cohesion but technically exciting, were more proposals; “This is what we’re able to do”. But what happens when emerging designers begin to be stocked? Volumes increase, intricate processes are side-lined. Designers begin designing with buyers in mind rather than their ideal customer. Unlike huge fashion houses, small-scale London designers don’t have the safety blanket of the selling rail. What you see, most of the time, is what you get.
How that theory translates down to Mary Katrantzou’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection is a new practicality to the shapes; Sixties shifts, a slim trouser flared at the calf, fishtail skirts and a straight up-and-down parka. Embellishment is clunkier, flock wallpaper and paisley-effect patterns less dependent on accurate cutting. There’s obviously still work here, seen in the embossed leather, but the mood is a little clumsy and unrefined. Even the heavy shoes are all sense and no sensibility.
On the plus side it’s also a commercially-savvy and wearable collection showing a great use of colour, always one of Mary’s strengths, although aesthetically it sits uncomfortably with previous collections, more somewhere between Jonathan Saunders and Prada. Both considerably successful houses though. Let’s hope if Mary Katrantzou continues in this new direction that it doesn’t lead to a dead end.
Catwalk review written by Lee Clatworthy (@BombFashion) for Katie Chutzpah.com