Under the sea … Under the sea … Please excuse me, but I have that silly song stuck in my head after watching the Mary Katrantzou spring/summer. This isn’t the first time she’s taking on an underwater fantasy with her designing, but this is by far the best and most enjoyable. In fact, this may well be her best collection yet.
I’m not sure exactly how the London Fashion Week schedule is put together. Some of it is tradition in the sense that if designers don’t ask to switch spots then much of the schedule just doesn’t move from one season to another. Some designers have been showing in the same place at the same time on the same day for years. This is the only second season that Ms. Katrantzou has come immediately after Dame Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label, though, and the juxtaposition between Dame Westwood’s social cause-driven political statement and Ms. Katrantzou’s underwater fantasy was almost too dramatic. Imagine stepping out the door on one world and suddenly taking an unexpected hyperspace leap onto an entirely different planet; that’s how strong the difference between the aesthetic styles is.
Mary Katrantzou is arguably London’s strongest seamstress and that quality and attention to detail really shows in a number of ways. There is a lot of shimmer in this collection and a significant part of that comes from the copious amount of sequins at play. Sequins aren’t exactly new for Katrantzou, but instead of them being trim or highlight, the opening pieces are practically dripping with them. Now, add detailed quilting and brocade and applique and one begins to get the idea that there may be more thread in a single Katrantzou ensemble than in some other designer’s full collections.
Interestingly enough, there are heavier fabrics here than one might expect. Sure, there’s a sufficient amount of chiffon and a touch or two of tulle, but there’s a lot of cotton, too, to handle all the detail. Few of these pieces are going to be as lightweight as one might expect, or want. Think of this more as a spring collection rather than something for the heat of summer. What’s especially interesting are the leggings that accompany several of the early ensembles. That might work for April and May, but they’re going to be too much for July and August.
Katrantzou manages to put a great deal of diversity into her collection, but not so much her runway. Out of almost 40 looks, only four, a meager ten percent, were worn by non-caucasian models. What’s especially sad here is that the colorful and shimmering designs really look better when not matched with white, blotchy, pasty skin we saw on several of her models. We give Mary a two on our scale of ten.
It is wonderful to see how much Ms. Katrantzou’s collection and popularity have grown. I remember when there were barely two hundred people at her shows, and it wasn’t all that long ago. I’m hoping that as she continues to grow that she’ll give as much attention to the diversity on her runway as she does her clothes.