Mary Katrantzou's thank-yous today included a shout-out to Antony Price, the British fashion legend whose claims to fame included dressing Roxy Music and their cover girls. Price was a specialist in the dramatic silhouette, and Katrantzou had clearly been doing her homework, because she recaptured that drama. "I'd already done the peplum and hourglass," she said backstage. "So I was looking for different silhouettes to emphasize embroidery and embellishments." And, Katrantzou scarcely needed to add, to frame those extraordinary prints that have propelled her lickety-split to the top of the London fashion class. Hence a godet skirt, so difficult to engineer print-wise that she made only four of them. Or frothing torrents of chiffon. Or a strictly corseted shape she'd extracted from some historical research (specifically Elizabethan England) without, she was quick to add, "crossing into the territory of costume."
Katrantzou also extended her repertoire in other ways. For the first time, she focused on a single color top-to-toe, like the crayons on her invitation. And she'd chosen deliberately banal subject matter to match the colors. Green meant grass, for instance, rendered as an ornamental lawn working its way down a floor-length gown. Yellow was expressed in a mandala of No. 2 HB pencils, erasers attached. They were rendered in rubber by the Lesage embroidery atelier in Paris—not only the first time Lesage's artisans had worked with such stuff, but also their first collaboration with a London designer. Clocks, hedges, telephones, spoons, and forks also provided source material. The bodice of a rococo red velvet dress featured a red typewriter, its keys providing a coiling abstract geometry on the skirt.
The serial patterning was so intense at times that it made you feel like the one person who couldn't make out the 3-D image in those Magic Eye pictures that were a minor craze a few years back. As everyone else shouted, one after another, "Oh, yes, I see it now," you'd be chewing on your eyeliner in a blind rage. But Katrantzou's conceits were so beautifully conceptualized—here never more so than with the bathtub that foamed with crystals and pearls—that her elevation of the quotidian to the sublime was, once again, easily one of the finest pieces of theater in London fashion week.