This was was a move away from the print mash-up she did last season and back to hyperreality, imagining the garment as a window into a room.
'C'est Ci N'est Pas Une Chambre' was the title of Mary Katrantzou's S/S 2011 collection - and, technically, that Magritte-alike maxim was true. This wasn't a room, it was a whole house, shattered into fragmented vistas and applied across this latest collection from London's undisputed Princess of Prints.
This was was a move away from the print mash-up she did last season and back to hyperreality, imagining the garment as a window into a room, namely those slightly Surrealist vistas peopled by the fashion mannequins of Bourdin and Newton in the Seventies. This was a perfect excuse to indulge the saturated colour and refracted graphics Katrantzou so adores, mirroring and slicing apart those interior images into a Pop-coloured college, adorned with three-dimensional furnishing textures - a pelmet at the shoulder, passementerie fringing at the hem.
Katrantzou originally trained in interior textiles, and her mother is an interior designer, so you could say it's in the blood - certainly this collection displayed an adeptness at alighting on and wittily mixing elements of interiors with her own feel for fashion. Arguably Katrantzou's trademarks of peppy print and oversized jewellery have never integrated so closely, nor so well - witness witty chandeliers and sconces as necklaces, distilled into chandelier drop bracelets that seemed instant must-haves. As with last season, however, this felt like a shift from Katrantzou's comfort zone - experiments with shape and fluidity resulted in ruffles of raffia culled from Provençal seating flouncing at the hemline and panels of chiffon fluttering at the hip, to lend movement to her signature sheaths.
There was an infectious sense of optimism to the collection, and not just in the eye-popping colour. Katrantzou's sense of baroque excess puts her in line with Gianni Versace and Christian Lacroix, and just as they offered an antidote to clean, mean Minimalism in the early Nineties, so Katrantzou's collections fly in the face our the great rush to the camel coat. Take Katrantzou's lampshade mini-crinis, jutting proudly from the hips, swirled with print and fringed with clattering crystal. They could have been culled from Lacroix's Eighties couture laboratory at Jean Patou, and there was a similar devil-may-care extravagance and energy. No woman will wear them in the real world, granted, but as a joyous statement for these hard, hard times they were just what we wanted to see.