Greek-born and London-based fashion designer Mary Katrantzou dug deep into Greece’s past for her Spring-Summer 2017 collection – shown on Sunday, September 18, during London Fashion Week – and took inspiration from ancient Greece. Innovative fabrics, vibrant colors, highly decorative details, sixties pop-art elements and her distinctive trompe l’oeil prints were imaginatively combined; Mycenaean pottery patterns ran down pleated evening skirts, chariots rode across A-line dresses, and the embroidered silhouettes of Minoan women posed on jackets and bodices. When interviewed about her choice of theme after the show, Katrantzou stated that, based on the evidence of frescoes and other artifacts, the status of women in the Minoan civilization (3650 to 1400 BCE) was very high and that, furthermore, the Minoan culture was the first one to use seams in their clothing, so it seemed quite fitting to integrate Minoan motifs into her designs.
Katrantzou was born in Athens in 1983 to an interior designer mother and a father who worked in textile design. Having developed an appreciation for applied design from an early age, she went on to study architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States, before transferring to Central Saint Martins in London to complete her degree in textile design. During her studies, she became interested in the way printed textiles can change the shape of a woman’s body, so she also pursued a post-graduate degree in Fashion. Her first success came with her graduating show in 2008, in which she mapped out her signature style of trompe l’oeil prints and drew the attention of a large portion of the buyers and the international press on hand. She went on to win various prestigious accolades, including the Swiss Textiles Award in 2010 and the ₤200,000 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2015, awarded by the British Fashion Council, the organizer of the annual London Fashion Week.
The first A-lister to wear one of Katrantzou’s creations on the red carpet was British actress Keira Knightley, during the Venice Festival 2011. Other celebrities followed, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, style-icon Sarah Jessica Parker and even Michelle Obama. Katrantzou, however, is equally interested in dressing the less famous, creating functional and unique ready-to-wear outfits that women can either wear on special occasions and then keep as collectables, or wear on a weekly basis. Beyond her personal collections, she has also produced collections for Topshop, Atelier Swarovski, Longchamp and Adidas, among others. Her clothes and accessories are sold in more than 200 stores and in 56 countries around the world.
“The status of women in the Minoan civilization (3650 to 1400 BCE) was very high and that, furthermore, the Minoan culture was the first one to use seams in their clothing, so it seemed quite fitting to integrate Minoan motifs into her designs.”