Sparkling Signs

Sparkling Signs

I felt like I had to tape my mouth up every time Mary Katrantzou came to mind in the prior days and moments before her A/W 14-5 show on Sunday.  The big story that emerged of course was that Katrantzou and thrown a massive curveball this season and there wasn’t a single digital print this season (save for a pattern printed onto metal chainmail of a butcher’s apron).  But I already knew this as just before New York Fashion Week, I had visited Katrantzou in her studio, with the help of Swarovski to see what she was up to, with regards to all things crystals.  Turns out embellishment, greatly aided by Swarovski, was highly integral to the collection this season.  The critics have been calling for change and had been urging Katrantzou to step away from the computer.

So Katrantzou took that advice, and it went hand in hand with her own desire to expand her repertoire and play with fabrics like custom-made technical laces developed in Switzerland, lush patterned jacquards and elongated silhouettes that gave away just a hint of her Greek origins (although she didn’t intend for it to look Greek).  Photoshop be damned.  Well, for one season anyway.

Katrantzou painted pictures, not with the click of a mouse but by collaging different elements together, which were often encrusted with crystals, beads and goldwork embroidery, to depict what were her “sign of the times”.  The matter-of-factly workman and toilet signs are mixed together with vaguely recognisable badges of honour, coats of arms and other forms of heraldry symbolism.  She explored different workwear uniforms that you wouldn’t think could necessarily be moulded into directional evening wear but then again, this is the woman who placed yellow pencils on a cocktail dress.  A chainmail butcher’s apron printed with a faded leopard print is printed and draped into a toga-esque mini dress.  The cookie cutters of a baker (also playing on the phrase “cookie cutter style”) hang off metal mesh, speckled with Swarovski pearls and crystals, created by jeweller Scott Wilson.  Most impressive of all though were the technical laces, chock full of symbols and signs, rendered in a uniform-inspired colour palette – navy, bottle green and burgandy.  Those colours were key in calming down the totem creatures – or as Mary called them, her “robots” – that were embroidered on top in different stages.  These robots don’t have names yet but they’ll take a life of its own when Katrantzou produces another digital-based campaign.  Erstwhile, jacquard trouser suits, dresses with worked in pleats and a simple oversized peacoat offset all the embroidery work and sparkle jangle going on in these badge/symbol/sign formations.

Perhaps it was the 3-D and tactile components (see furry sweatshirts and nubbly laces) which unleashed a new lease of life into Katrantzou’s work.  As good as her digital prints were, they were an image – perhaps an intangible one when digitally printed onto a smooth satin surface.  Her past silhouettes also skewed sculptural and often, stiff.  This time they moved, flowed and breathed, thanks to the use of pleats.  I have the photos to prove it, as I snapped the models rushing to change into their second looks backstage.

Despite the no-print shocker, we could all see the giant step forward.  Like her previous digital print collections, the message and imagery were shouted loud and clear.  There wasn’t any ambiguity and that’s what Katrantzou excels at – telling a story with a literal and direct medium – be that print, embellishment or otherwise.  No doubt, the prints will still exist within Katrantzou’s sales showroom.  Negative reviews have never stopped Katrantzou’s runaway success train and the shops still cry for her unique print agenda.  Katrantzou now has a wider set of skillsets to draw from and she now feels confident enough to do so.    We, the spectators and customers are in for a treat, as we enter a different Katrantzou era.

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Leave a comment
  1. Jessica Rose

    2014-02-19 at 7:21 PM

    Great pictures….always interesting to see behind the scenes..

  2. Ann

    2014-02-19 at 8:06 PM

    I’ve loved all of Mary Katrantzou’s work so far and still think her digital prints were amazing. That said, the mark of a true genius is to constantly push boundaries and succeed and it looks like Mary has nailed it again. I can’t wait for her latest collection to go in the clearance sale in a year’s time so I can afford to buy some!!

  3. Honor

    2014-02-19 at 9:19 PM


  4. Ana

    2014-02-19 at 9:24 PM

    While I really like some pieces (cookie cutter dress, yes), I’m not in love with the whole collection like I was with the one she broke into our consciousness (I think I first saw that one on your blog, too, and it made me love both you and Mary).

    But I look forward to her future collections – they are always interesting.

  5. Zhanna

    2014-02-19 at 9:42 PM

    Hi, Susie, I would like to kindly ask you if you don’t mind, sweetheart, to use spaces and transfer your eloquent writing into ‘reader-friendly’ mode by arranging your interesting stories into paragraphs with spaces in between, I would greatly appreciate that.

    Amazing pieces, beautiful craftsmanship, what else you expect when seeing works of Mary Katrantzou. She is extremely talented and highly resourceful as a designer, innovator and achiever.

    • stylebubble

      2014-02-19 at 10:07 PM

      Apologies I copied and pasted the wrong version of the text with typos !! And forgot to space it out from the copied text. It’s been a looooong-ass day! Amended now…

  6. Lauren S

    2014-02-19 at 11:06 PM
  7. Juan David (@Juanduh)

    2014-02-19 at 11:31 PM

    This is just… amazing.

  8. Bei Na Wei

    2014-02-20 at 4:16 AM

    Susie!!! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful detailed shots and sharing the narrative behind the collection, the runway shots just don’t do collections like these justice.

  9. Pinboards

    2014-02-20 at 7:01 AM

    Really nice post i like it…thanks

    Children’s Whiteboards

  10. Beautiful Things

    2014-02-20 at 7:57 AM

    Mary Katrantzou really is one of my favourite designers. Constantly fresh, constantly pushing the boundaries. The detail here is incredible. My boyfriend, who is most determinedly NOT into fashion, was sitting next to me when I was reading this and remarked how clever and imaginative this was

  11. Natalia AKA LittleRus

    2014-02-20 at 9:01 AM

    It will be interesting to see what this develops into. So far many of the looks made me think of Valentino SS 2014… I feel that what she did before what very dreamy – now it’s a little bit like everyone else plus beautiful craftsmanship. Thank you for the photos, though – it’s always more interesting to see what’s going on behind the scenes rather than on a runway. x

  12. Sophia

    2014-02-20 at 9:30 AM

    The intricate details of this collection are breathtaking. It’s amazing to watch a designer develop and explore new techniques and styles, particularly when the results are as fantastic as this collection is.

    Great to see the details up close and have a unique insight into what was happening backstage, so thank you Susie!

  13. Vidhi Gandhi

    2014-02-20 at 10:40 AM

    Mesmerising designs… They have a hint of Indian in them

  14. Vivian

    2014-02-20 at 1:12 PM

    The intricate detailing and brocading is amazing, and the colours! Wow!

    LIVE . IN . LOVE ✞


  15. DinoB

    2014-02-20 at 3:33 PM

    Ohh, the Mary Katrantzou A/W 2014…
    Although I absolutely agree this change from 2D to 3D is a step-up into a really evolving direction, I still missed some of her older work. Maybe not in the prints and photoshop-y aesthetic, but in the silhouettes and shapes which were constantly pushing the buttons of critics.
    I think this season, her use of Swarovski was waaay smarter than the last season, as she was now using it as punctuation. Still, I somehow long for her youthful & fearless spirit, maybe it’s my melancholic spirit that wishes ‘Mary never grows up’.

    But nevertheless, it was a truly unique vision, although now – after seeing it for numerous times, I see elements of the extremely elaborative tribal-esque last Valentino couture show and the Stella McCartney embellished humorous last resort collection.

    xx d.

  16. sasa

    2014-02-20 at 5:18 PM

    yea Mary is one of my fav. The dress with jewelry embedded is just insane. Love love it<3

    New on

  17. Rebecca

    2014-02-20 at 7:41 PM

    Such incredible, beautiful detail. Gorgeous.

  18. kiri

    2014-02-21 at 1:12 AM

    I was amazed when I saw the collection myself – I instagramed one of the full length embellished tapestry dresses when I saw it.
    I loved reading about your take and I agree this collection was a very bold step forward but also totally in keeping with her bold messages of previous collections. I am liking the move away from the digital prints as I actually never ended up buying a digital print piece because of the pieces were too obvious. everyone would know what collection I got my items from. I am really more of a classic items girl myself.
    Once again I love looking at your photos because you can never fully experience a collection on the internet until you see all the detail of the pieces up close. So thanks for sharing once again.

    I think my FAV pieces by far are the pleated armour dresses – and I would love to get my hands on one. I hope maybe DJs in sydney will have them eventually as I always love to try things on.
    These pieces would all look great as HERO pieces in my classic wardrobe and I think they will be pieces to pull out of the wardrobe again and again to dress up and change things I already own.

  19. kiri

    2014-02-21 at 1:14 AM

    I just wrote a really long winded comment on this and I think it disappeared… 🙁

    Once again thanks for sharing this lovely collection!

  20. Filipa Moreira

    2014-02-21 at 9:49 AM

    I like the colectivos because of the diferente and original patterns. But my special dresses are the ones that look like they have earrings attached to.

    XX Fi

  21. giulia

    2014-02-21 at 10:04 AM

    beautiful pics, I love this collection, it is amazin’!!!
    kiss Giuly

  22. Ale

    2014-02-21 at 10:22 AM
  23. Penelope

    2014-02-21 at 10:43 AM

    Wonderful shots, amazing these pieces of art, love the colors

  24. Natalie

    2014-02-21 at 11:14 AM

    Wow! Amazing craftsmanship, glad to see Mary Katrantzou trying something so different, it really demonstrates her talent and nerve x


    2014-02-21 at 12:05 PM

    Wonderful close ups. I can nearly touch the fabric and the gorgeous embroidery. It has a latin American flair.
    Thank you so much for such a delight.

  26. Emma

    2014-02-21 at 12:20 PM

    Wow!!Great pictures and awesome collection.Loved that metallic work on fabric.

  27. Alicia

    2014-02-21 at 1:37 PM

    Adorable photos :X


    2014-02-21 at 7:04 PM

    What I love about this collection is the boarding school feel – short, hockey-style skirts on the minidresses, sweatshirts with crests, and clothing made entirely from patches, like merit badges sewn into a sort of matrix. Of course the colour scheme too – there is no combination more boarding school than maroon and navy blue…. So great, and such a drastic but effective next step for the brand – I was tired of the digital prints about 2 seasons ago

  29. Gladys

    2014-02-22 at 10:48 AM

    I enjoyed looking at the very detailed pictures. They really show the beauty, vivid colors and uniqueness of the designs. What a beautiful collection! The MOD style dresses were my favorites. It is interesting to see a behind the scenes through your eyes.


  30. Redhead Illusion

    2014-02-23 at 9:07 PM

    Mary Katrantzou did it again!!! A unique and amazing collection!!Hundred steps forward…Thank you so much for sharing

    Redhead Illusion

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