New Classical. For Spring/Summer 2017 Mary Katrantzou looked introspectively to Greece, the country of her birth. Exploring its rich history, mythology and culture, she dug deep into her own work. This collection is an archaeological exploration, unearthing the classics of Katrantzou.
The ancient civilisation of the Minoans gave initial inspiration. Their culture, as we experience it through their artefacts, is dominated by the female. Feminine deities proliferated, women priests officiated; taking centre stage on Minoan frescos, intricately fashioned and decorated. The earliest European civilisation made the earliest fashion statement and Katrantzou reinforces this within the collection.
Katrantzou combines the ancient with the hyper-modern, fusing classicism with futurism and sixties art. Ancient artefacts are warped through op-art designs, mapped across the topography of the body to create new focal points and emphasis. Thucydides and Clytemnestra on acid.
The Minoans surrender inspiration from their frescos, the specific giving way to more abstract interpretations of the “Greco”. Mycenaean pottery patterns are used to decorate garments, the instantly-identifiable Greek key meander borders garments. The fitted silhouette mirrors Minoan dress, but also curvaceous amphora vases, streamlined and made modern.
In exploring the cultural signature of her Hellenic heritage, Katrantzou was drawn into the archives, digging through her creative past to establish her own cannon of classics. The collection marks a return to her trademark of trompe l’oeil prints, technically superlative across hourglass-seamed dresses and slender trousers with tunics. Re-embracing silhouettes and techniques she made her signature, the peplum echoes the curvaceous lines of the women of Minoan’s "matriarchal religion,” given a new fluidity.
Katrantzou’s love of jewellery manifests in dresses crafted from armoured plates, like jewelled Sparta warriors via Kubrick. Embroideries emerge in her interpretation of Minoan women and their artefacts, intricately beaded and highlighted in Swarovski. Continuing her exploration of textile innovation, fluid chainmail is mounted with lace and overprinted, exposing frames of psychedelic infused figures with hourglass silhouettes pulled in and keyed close to the body via grid smocking.
A search for timeless modernity, epitomised by Greek classicism, leads Katrantzou to investigate the interpretations of the ancient world by others: an embroidered profile and olive-bearing doves of peace recalls Jean Cocteau, while elongated sinuous skirts echo the Greek-influenced lines of the forties. Graphic arrows of olive leaf inspired jewellery further frame the face. Letter clutches re-imagined from the archive combine to create new artefacts for the modern age.
An embrace of her own culture background re-contextualises Katrantzou’s signatures: her prints, her silhouettes, her heritage. The language is Mary Katrantzou, but the key is Greek.
Returning on site at the British Fashion Council’s Brewer Street Carpark Space, Mary transformed the space into a modern take on the ancient Greek architectural geometry and asymmetry. Striped lines on the floor led the eye to a garden of columns striped in reflective mirrors further reflected in a floor to ceiling mirrored backdrop. A meditation on the introspective and personal nature of the collection.