Fashion innovator Mary Katrantzou visits Manchester
PUBLISHED: 14:59 03 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:59 03 July 2013
The fashion world can be an intimidating place for a mere mortal so what a surprise to find that one of his stellar talents turns out to be warm, bright and decidedly un-fashiony, writes Janet Reeder. The antithesis of the deaths-head skeletons of the catwalk.
You might not know the name but you will know the ‘work’ as the digital printing that makes the work of Mary Katrantzou so unique has been copied by everyone from Roberto Cavalli to Top Shop.
However the real deal, now on sale in Selfridges which is where we caught up with the Greek-born designer is what really does have the wow factor. The patterns in themselves are inspired by everything from architectural trompe l’oeil to sunny summers on the Med, and these beautifully-constructed creations are the perfect occasionwear for posh parties and chic weddings.
Meanwhile Katrantzou herself is clad in black and on a whistlestop trip to promote the arrival of her label in Manchester. What’s so nice though is that she gives the impression she’s thought about the place before coming and has happily rustled up a couple of anecdotes about the city.
‘I have I’ve only been once and I only came for two days when I was studying in London - James the band had just reunited and were playing and it’s my boyfriend’s favourite band so we can just to see them play,’ she recalls.
‘I wasn’t a fan of the band at the time but started appreciating them more and more when I started dating my boyfriend.
‘Now I know all the albums I think there’s something about them that transcends certain cultures and James were huge in Greece.
‘And my mum sent me an e-mail to say my great grandmother was born in Manchester so I asked immediately, “how come?” She said no idea and even from what side of the family she was from but she was Greek and no way British so I have no idea how she came to be here.’
The Manchester gloom was indeed the antithesis of where she brought up and she admits that as a teenager she “loved a bit of misery” closing the blinds against the brilliant blue skies of Greece to listen to music, however home is now London and she like the rest of us is destined to make the most of the Great British Summer .
‘I think a lot of the designers coming out of London are very colourful right now and I think it’s a little bit of a reaction to the weather because the setting is more grey and by contrast street style is more colourful,’ she says.
‘Home now is London because I’ve lived there for the past 11 years. I initially came because of my boyfriend and now it’s my base. I am still with my James-Loving boyfriend. He’s called Marius and his favourite football team is Manchester City too so he’s all about Manchester!’
It was her boyfriend who encouraged her to head to London to do textile design. She had originally studied architecture but felt there was more scope doing surface design - ‘because it is very applicable there’s something about applied design, you can go into interiors you can go into fashion. I ended up in fashion but there are so many things you can do.’
She continues: ‘Initially textile design was to me more about printed textiles for wallpapers and interiors, so I did wall blinds and upholstery and I loved that because it was more a natural transition from where I came from . Then I started thinking about how print can map out a female figure.
‘I think what intrigued me was that it was the challenge of taking something and engineering it on a woman’s body and then no one worked with print. To do precision engineering with print and make a print that was as definitive as the cut of a dress. So I felt I could do something more unique with my work. I joined St Martins and my ambitions shifted because lot of people wanted their own labels and lived and breathed fashion and you start thinking about your own work in a different way start having questions like “why not me? Maybe I’m interested in having my own label”.
‘In the last few years there has been a huge shift and a transition wanting to wear clothes of a decorative nature. I think a lot of our customers buy into it because they see it as a design aesthetic choice almost as if you’d buy a product for your home. It communicates a lot about your aesthetic and taste to the world. it allows women to make a bold statement about themselves.’