Imagine being inside Mary Katrantzou’s head when she’s dreaming about a new collection. Dance was on her mind for Spring, but all that synchronized movement got her thinking about the body as a set of interlocking tectonic plates. And that got her thinking about the planet 200 million years ago—the supercontinent Pangaea, the super-ocean Panthalassa, the way life-forms evolved from sea to land. Creationists, look away now.
Katrantzou has already proved herself fearless: no ocean too deep, no mountain too high to provide grist for her creative mill. But Paleozoic planet Earth took the cake. She’s moved on from the sumptuous engineered prints that made her name. Now it’s sumptuous textures that captivate Katrantzou, and where better to find such things than the world in primordial flux. On a catwalk that was a lava flow of black rubber chips, with Sigur Rós soaring heavenward on the soundtrack, she paraded clothes in a palette of sand and ocean (muted, new for her), shades of alien flora and fauna, tulle printed and embroidered like a serpent’s skin, plain cotton transmogrified by ridges of coral squiggles, and tectonic plates of glitter mounted peekaboo on sheer bodies. It was another Katrantzou tour de force.
And it was stronger for the fact that she contextualized her technical feats with straightforward, even strict silhouettes: slipdresses, shirtdresses, shifts, sheaths, shell tops. Katrantzou claimed she would never have had the confidence to do this once upon a time. But how effective was the simple lace slip transformed by slithering synapses of embroidery. Or the beauty of a sheath dress that was an ocean of caviar beading, eerie sea creatures wriggling through it, antediluvian ooze leaking across the model’s shoulder. The sophistication of the execution was an even match for the sophistication of the concept.
Katrantzou’s Resort collection—the alphabet—was so completely, perfectly realized that it begged the question why she simply wouldn’t march that down the runway for Spring. But she was, of course, already working on this one, as she is even now prepping her next. It’s almost surreal that she is capable of producing such distinct, accomplished bodies of work with such regularity. No ocean too deep, no mountain too high…