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Show Report

Show Report: Mary Katrantzou A/W 16 Womenswear

by Lou Stoppard on 21 February 2016

Lou Stoppard reports on the Mary Katrantzou A/W 16 womenswear show.

Lou Stoppard reports on the Mary Katrantzou A/W 16 womenswear show.

Mary Katrantzou is loved by a certain kind of woman - a shopper who enjoys dressing up, who wants to be the centre of attention. Katrantzou herself knows these women well - she’s made the time to travel the globe meeting her clients, attending society events and picking the brains of the monied peacocks who are willing to splash out on her frocks. London has garnered quite the reputation as the city of party wear - alongside Katrantzou, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Roksanda and co are all masters of dressing up. Some criticise this, saying that the endless runs of cocktail wear is too conservative of a proposition for a city which prides itself on innovation and counterculture. Still, they can’t knock Katrantzou’s business - there’s a market for her brand of colourful, all bells and whistles, dressing up. She’s just tapped a new CEO, Trino Verkade, previously of Thom Browne and Alexander McQueen. And she’s musing on new steps like her own store. Look online, and she’s the London’s queen of social media - 306k followers on Instagram, 73.3k on Twitter. Her shoppers love a MK dress because they look great online, even without a filter. Today’s creations will pop particularly well on an Instagram feed. So, out of all the London party wear pack, Katrantzou has slowly emerged as the strongest. You can put that down to the fact she speaks directly to her shopper. She may not be owned by a big group or have a Mount Street store but she’s got a clear, obsessive, committed customer base. You watch one of her collections and can immediately image who buys it. She knows her woman.

So what was her woman after for A/W 16? More, more, more, clearly. Katrantzou’s collections have been feeling more grown up recently - you can notice that in the casting, the dialling down of digital print, the clean tailoring. This was quite the reversal - kitsch butterfly and pony motifs jostled for space alongside stars, hearts and flames. Her girls became Russian dolls - part sweet infantile creature, part Babushka (perhaps a nod to Katrantzou’s fans in Eastern Europe). Mary is a global designer. London is little more than her base. While it’s good that Katrantzou answers to her audience and her buyers - many London designers suffer from existing in a bubble, unaware of changing global tastes or the requirements of woman from different climes and cultures -  one felt that her eye had wandered too far this season. Many cited whiffs of Miu Miu - particularly in those opening jackets, checked with colourful cartoonish detailing on the surface. Similarly, in the prim sheer dresses, especially the floor length navy number with embellishment, one thought of Valentino. You can criticise, or you can argue that Katrantzou is clearly keen to be in step with the fashion zeitgeist - the first port of call for the style concise woman keen for the latest ‘look.’ A mega brand, after all, has more than an aesthetic or a point of view, it offers a product selection that covers all needs and bases - enough to say ‘why go anywhere else.’ Katrantzou is clearly thinking big.

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