We all know that there are new designers emerging all of the time. Many of them are good. Many of them are very good. And they make beautiful clothes that we might want to buy or wear. The new or emerging designer who just takes your breath away because he or she is doing something so different, so original, so unique, and so absolutely fabulous, is a much rarer breed. The last time I was truly blown away be a designer (or design team as the case may be) was when Rodarte burst onto the scene. But the last couple of times I have found myself stopped in my tracks by a spread in a fashion magazine, I have found that the same designer was behind the clothes: Mary Katrantzou. Mary, you are brilliant. I love you. If you should ever have extra inventory that you need to get off your hands ….
Part of what is incredible about Mary’s work, is that it is truly art and fashion at the same time. The garments can be worn. They are expensive. They are unusual. They will definitely get you noticed. Some are trickier to wear than others. But these are definitely clothes that women can wear. At the same time, each is an incredible and intricate work of art. Her textiles are, quite simply, mind blowing. Check out these pieces at Neiman Marcus right now:
Granted, most of the dresses retail for between $1400 and $2000, which is certainly not in my budget. Given those prices, the silk jersey dress on the right (above) for $790 is looking like a bargain. I almost feel like I need to buy it for the pleasure of owning one of Mary’s incredible dresses. But then I remember that I don’t spend $790 on a dress and come back down to earth.
Katrantzou was born in Athens, Greece, her mother an interior designer and her father a textile designer. So clearly she comes by her talent honestly. You can see her Greek roots in the classic architectural style of her cuts and the romantic classicism of her prints. In fact, in 2003 she came to the US to the Rhode Island School of Design as a B.A. student in architecture, but then transfered to Central Saint Martins and textile design. Katrantzou now works out of London. Her designs are also available at Barney’s New York and net-a-porter.com.
For everyone who, like me, finds herself now madly and passionately obsessed with Katrantzou’s extraordinary designs, but doesn’t have a $1600/dress budget, all hope is not lost. No, we can’t own the real thing yet. I’m hoping that we will be seeing a designer collaboration with H&M or Target in the foreseeable future. But wait, she did a small group for Topshop last spring and has another Topshop collaboration coming for spring 2012 which promises to be breathtaking. I can hardly contain myself — time to start saving up now. In the meantime, the Versace for H&M collaboration might have to suffice. And it’s not a bad place holder really. For example, the Katrantzou leggings (below left) retail for $1510, and shown with a little black dress, are absolute perfection. God I want to wear that. But Donatella Versace’s leggings, hitting H&M stores in just over two weeks, will do me just fine. At $29.95 – yes, $29.95!! - I might just have to get a couple of colors.
My two favorite outfits from the Versace collection (above right) will help me assuage my hunger for Katrantzou’s clothes for the time being. I’ll see you in line at H&M on the 19th. There is a delicacy to the Mary Katrantzou collection that Versace doesn’t have. Referring to her H&M collection, Donatella Versace is quoted as saying, “I want women to stop taking fashion so seriously”. Amen to that. Her clothes have a sense of fun and playfulness, they embrace the kitsch, in a way that I love and respect. Which sets them apart from the Katranzou designs which, while without a doubt over the top, are so exquisite and refined, there isn’t a trace of kitsch at all. Either way, these are clothes to treasure.
(And really, Mary, if you’re listening, should I ever find myself in possession of one of your dresses, I promise I will promote the heck out of it. You blow my mind.)