Remembrance of things past. Mary Katrantzou’s Spring/Summer 2018 Collection takes inspiration from childhood - not hers, not yours, but an idealised infancy, an everyman’s experience. A restless nostalgia for the signs, signifiers and symbols of youth. A fusion of the innocent with the knowing - a child’s imagination is the only limit.
At the earliest age children are encouraged in their unbridled creativity - they build with blocks, they colour, paint and draw. Expression is everything. For Spring/Summer - the ‘youth’ of a year - Mary Katrantzou uses those childhood art forms, playthings and pastimes as inspiration for silhouette, textile development and decorative motifs. Innocent invention is put to innovative application.
The crafting preoccupations of rainy afternoons become intricate devices for technique experimentation and fabric innovation, combining the deliriously exuberant with the elegant. Paint-by-numbers flowers explode into colour through brushstrokes of oversized print, hama bead embroidery transcend into Vichy checks, Lego effects are recreated via colourful interlocking perspex bricks, and plaited friendship bracelets become a triptych of intricate hand braided dresses in silk-thread fringing. Elsewhere, simple motifs - blocked colours, flowers, polka-dots - become designs for Spirograph quilting or flocked applications. Throughout, the naïve becomes sophisticated.
But childhood isn’t spent confined to the home. The pursuit of the great outdoors inspire fabrics, silhouettes and creative treatments. Nylon is a key fabric - reminiscent of children’s balloons, the tent fabrics of camping trips, and high-flown kites. Voluminous balloon shapes are gathered and released with toggled edged drawstrings, a balancing act between restraint and movement. Inspired by the inflatable arm-bands worn whilst swimming, bags are juicily pumped with air and suspended from macro chain straps. Scales throughout are toyed with, like a child’s eye view.
Colour is vibrant, Crayola crayon-box bright. Brilliant daffodil yellow, tomato and cerise are combined with school uniform shades of bottle-green, navy and khaki, cut into brief safari shapes inspired by Boy Scout uniforms. A contrasting candy-box palette utilised for playful bubble-wrap matelassé – captures the glee evoked, even in adults, by popping their air-filled pockets. Katrantzou renders hers with couture-level expertise, in heat-formed transparent fabrics with heart motifs, the whole embroidered with Spirograph broderie anglaise. Children’s jelly shoes are re-imagined in high frequency cut kitten heels contrasting with elevated colour blocked sandals studded with marble collectibles.
Created in collaboration with Atelier Swarovski, the collection's jewellery uses precious stones encased and stacked in archetypal geometric shapes: cube, sphere and pyramid. The simple graphicism of a playful structural blueprint.
The whole translates the innocent idiom of the nursery into the haute couture atelier, fusing fashion with fun. To quote Pablo Picasso, ‘Every child is an artist.’ This collection discovers the artistry in childhood anew.