Amongst all the talents in London Fashion Week, you got the feeling she was the one pushing the hardest, truly trying to take her aesthetic to another level.
There are some fashion shows that bore you. There are some that excite you. There are quite a few you really, really want to wear. Very rare is the fashion show that sets fire to something beneath you, kicks your hyperbole into overdrive and has you running out of the venue to the nearest keyboard desperate to record it for posterity. The best moments? When that undeniable, indefinable rush is shared by just about everyone present.
Mary Katrantzou's Autumn/Winter 2012 show was just such a moment. Why? Because, amongst all the talents in London Fashion Week, you got the feeling she was the one pushing the hardest, truly trying to take her aesthetic to another level. Guess what? She achieved it. This show was a truly exceptional moment.
Here are the nuts and bolts: Mary Katrantzou decided to do block colour. Block colour, for Mary Katrantzou, doesn't actually mean block colour. What it means is massing millions of images of objects of similar colours - pencils, spoons, chess-pieces, hedges, typewriters, that kind of thing - and somehow manipulating those to fit the human form, to flattering effect. It then means designing clothes that test the levels of human understanding when examining the engineering of the print, folding the complex geometric intricately around bustles, basques, in and out of pleats, twisting them into corsets. Then, apparently, after sleepless weeks of work, Katrantzou got bored and decided to embellish everything to within an inch of its life, drafting in no less than world-famous, fabled French embroidery house Lesage (they approached her, actually) to encrust a dozen pieces with couture-quality embroidery. Oh, for those who missed it, there was unbelievable printed leather too, under those mille-feuille miles of printed skirts.
This is the kind of collection with so much depth, richness and invention, it's virtually impossible to dissect it all, to discuss every facet of its innovation, to articulate exactly how it felt to see designer create something so mesmerising, so unique, and hands-down so jaw-droppingly, unapologetically beautiful. What felt so great? The dressed-up spirit, the flirty, coquettish short skirts, the wit, the fact that amongst those seven-figure embroidered frocks were sleek, powerful printed pieces and clever knitwear you could see on any shop rail (but not for long). There's a sixty-piece commercial collection hanging back at the studio for anyone looking to buy straight into the dream, although 'Cake-a-Flake' - Katrantzou's name for a powder-puff babydoll of pastel silk chiffon - and Katrantzou's version of a pencil-skirt bristling with Lesage's recreation of yellow pencils (complete with erasers) are worth mortgaging the house for. Backstage after her bow, an exhausted Katrantzou asked only one question: 'Did they like it?' No, Mary. They loved it.