Mary Katrantzou

Snapshots by iconic fashion photographers Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin are typically synonymous with the glossy pages of high fashion magazines like Vogue, or they hang idly on the barren white walls of an expansive gallery. Trendsetting London-based fashion designer, Mary Katrantzou, has taken these stylized photographs to another level, splashing them on her latest designs in her Spring/Summer 2011 collection.

Inspired by René Magritte and the surrealist masters, the young designer’s collection “Ceci n’est pas une chambre” (This is not a room) is an amalgamation of fine art and fashion creating a surrealist haven in the form of avant-garde couture. Katrantzou’s fascination with rooms transforms itself into the central theme of this season’s work, her vision stemming from graphic sets of Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin’s fashion shoots. The Greek-born designer is a relative newbie to the fashion scene, but in just a few years Katrantzou has situated herself as one of fashion’s biggest up-and-coming starlets. She is well known for edgy creations featuring graphic, colorful prints that have prolifically gained popularity since the inception of her brand.

The 27-year-old graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins in 2005 with a BA and in 2008 with her MA, and had short stints with both Bill Blass as a print designer and Sophia Kokosalaki before embarking on her own label. Katrantzou’s talent landed her a place at London’s Spring/Summer 2009 Fashion Week after her graduation, where she showcased just nine pieces. This was the launch pad for her career, as she was chosen by a number of prestigious department stores, including Browns, Penelope and Colette, to sell her garments.

Katrantzou’s reputation precedes itself and she is swiftly making a name for herself as a young, international creative wunderkind. Her work has been featured in publications like Vogue and The New York Times, and her various collections can be found at the powerhouse for fashion’s finest—Barneys. She was also the recipient of the NEWGEN Award, which created a space for her to showcase her first standalone show at London Fashion Week this past spring. On top of her haute-couture accolades, Katrantzou is also taking her designs from high-end to high-street, producing a second collection for English fashion retail leader, Topshop and launching a perfume called Trompe L’Oeil in collaboration with Six Scents.

Katrantzou’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection, with themes focused around interiors, is an artful collection of unique yet wearable pieces. Simple window frames become the central focal point with sleeves that appear like curtains on structured, angled, colorful frocks that are swinging with modernity. They are feminine in their chassis, creating wearable visual snapshots—a woman, her body becoming a room of its own. Katrantzou has been quoted as saying, “With this collection, I wanted to put the room on the woman, rather than the woman in the room,” and she does this ideology justice.

Some dresses are finished with ruffled details cascading from the body in waves of curtains and fringe, creating soft movement. Victorian lampshades become skirts and her use of angled curves of fabric create a playful 3-D effect to the interior landscapes that adorn the woman’s bodies. It stays feminine and pretty with silky blouses tucked into the mini crinoline lampshade skirts and swashes of elegant color—greens, bright yellows and cool pastels create collage-like creations of the surreal.

Each carefully created masterpiece is a stand-alone art piece and has lifted prints from the likes of Architectural Digest and The World of Interiors. The designer is a master of creating illusions with her work and is well known for her vivid graphic prints that border on photography. Each garment carefully draws the viewer into the rooms creating values of depth. They are all beautifully crafted, thoughtful in their curves and carefully selected swathes of chiffon.

Each garment has a distinctive edge—necklaces act as parts of chandeliers and staircases reflect necklaces. All are dreamlike and create a sense of wonder.

The upcoming Autumn/Winter collection is a collaboration with Atelier Swarovski and will likely be as grand. All of her collections have used a sense of hyperrealism, and her most recent only adds to her portfolio of interesting avant-garde designs. Over a few short years, Katrantzou’s brand has become synonymous with eccentric, show-stopping elegance and the designer shows no signs of bringing in her creative reigns any time soon.

Text: Lena Vazifdar
Photography: Olivia Beasley
Styling: Sabrina Henry
Hair: Nina Beckett at Soho Management using Kerastase
Make-up: Kenneth Soh at Soho Managment using MAC
Model: Jessica Pain at Models 1

Mary Katrantzou black silk jersey ‘Dorchester’ dress
Erickson Beamon tropical punch hoop earrings

Mary Katrantzou black silk jersey ‘Dorchester’ dress
Erickson Beamon tropical punch hoop earrings

Mary Katrantzou green silk ‘Plantation’ trisecta dress with fringing
Gucci bronze bondage strap shoes
Erickson Beamon dune earrings and square tropical punch bangle
Heijing Chi lime and jade green ring

Mary Katrantzou pink ‘Sauna’ top and floral printed ‘Sauna’ lampshade skirt
Erickson Beamon pink chandelier earrings, halcyon night necklace (worn as garter) and halcyon night ring

Mary Katrantzou pink ‘Le Meurice’ off-shoulder dress
Christian Louboutin for Mary Katrantzou navy and pink rope wedges with pale blue suede straps
Erickson Beamon frosted green chandelier earrings and halcyon night square pendant necklace
Heijing Chi navy and cream ring

Mary Katrantzou long sleeve silk ‘Alcatraz’ jacket
Louis Vuitton purple high waisted flare trousers
Erickson Beamon dune earrings and tropical punch ring