My big fat Greek fashion show. That’s what Mary Katrantzou put on for S/S 17. It’s easy to group London’s designers together as ‘British’ talent despite the fact that most hail from far flung corners of the globe; homeplaces, backgrounds and heritages that constantly inform and shape their aesthetics. Katrantzou is Greek-born, London-trained, but it was the former that she put the spotlight on this season. She looked to its mythology and history, notably the customs and styles of ancient civilisations like the Minoans, when designing. Katrantzou has a skill for taking any symbol or graphic and making it visually intriguing. A goldfish? A typewriter? She doesn’t need bombastic, grand frescos or emblems to give her collections punch. She knows this. That’s why, rather than making this too literal of a tribute, she’d played with classic Greek symbols and twisted them in with references to sixties art. She’s brought back her signature trompe l’oeil prints, after spending seasons establishing herself as an embellisher and cutter, far more than just a digital printer, with confidence and charisma. Nothing felt literal or costumey, everything felt exciting. She designs for women who may want conservative garments - cocktails dresses, clutches and the like - but don’t want to look conservative. It’s a complex balance to get right. But Katrantzou has a sound understanding of her customer, and of women in general. She not only draws on her own instinct, but travels the globe speaking to those who buy her clothes. Katrantzou is queen of market research. These collections aren’t really for us, the press, they’re for her clients and crew. They’re made with closets not online content in mind. It’s apt then, and strangely sweet, that part of the reason Katrantzou looked to the Minoans was due to the dominance of the female in their culture.
Some dresses resembled armour, crafted by connected plates. You could read into that. I’m sure many women have pulled on a Katrantzou frock as a form of armour or protection - a sheath to help them face the day - or the cocktail party. Guests gasped and stared as they appeared on the runway, largely because of the sound they made as the models strode. A charismatic rustle. You heard them before you saw them. This was a collection that touched all the senses.