The Greek “Queen of Prints” conquers Crete – The Connector

The One Look Series is a four-part series that highlights writing pieces from the Fashion Journalism course. Students were asked to write a piece based off of one selected look from SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film‘s current exhibition, “Kaleidoscope Katrantzou: Mary Katrantzou, 10 Years in Fashion.”

The Greek “Queen of Prints” Conquers Crete

by Perrin Moore

Whenever London-based designer and the so-called “Queen of Prints” Mary Katrantzou is mentioned to fashionistas, one word comes to mind: pattern.

Her signature style is in full show at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, where the exhibit “Kaleidoscope Katrantzou: 10 Years in Fashion” is on view until September 22.

As soon as one enters the open-concept layout, every garment is visible amid mirrored columns dividing the room, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. In fact, the exhibition itself exists as a pattern.

While pieces are grouped in different sections based on when Katrantzou produced them, the museum exhibitors created an overarching sense of unity in the room. However, there is one particular section that seems to be an entity of its own — the designer’s Spring/Summer 2017 “Minoan” collection.

Four mannequins are symmetrically positioned like statues of Greek gods atop the tympanum of the Parthenon. In addition to the arrangement of mannequins, their garments are directly influenced by ancient Greece and the Minoan civilization that preceded it to the south on the island of Crete.

The mannequin identified as Number 57 wears a pantsuit in a digital print on a synthetic fabric. The “Maia Top,” also known as the “Thoukis Medallion,” and the “Thoukis Trousers,” along with a synthetic orange and crimson olive wreath adorning the mannequin’s head, reference the designer’s Greek heritage. The “Minoan” collection by Katrantzou, who was born in Athens, is a fitting homage to her homeland.

Photo by Perrin Moore.

“I never wanted to use classical Greek art, because being from there, it seemed too obvious,” said Katrantzou in a 2016 interview with Vogue. “But this time I thought — Why not?”

Inspired by ancient Minoan art from Crete, the designer handpicked scenes featuring women, taken from artifacts and temples, and transposed them digitally onto fabric. The Number 57 ensemble features a woman throwing a discus and below it, an ornamental seal depicting an enigmatic man sticking his tongue out, similar to the seal on the center of the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenos at the Parthenon.

In an avant-garde twist, Katrantzou found inspiration in ’60s and ’70s music posters to complete the look. Swirling, psychedelic patterns bedeck the piece on the bodice, the sleeves and the trousers in their entirety.

Radiating from the Minoan iconography at the center of the piece and flowing outward, a crimson, mustard, white, blue and green geometric pattern emphasizes the ancient depictions, drawing the eye to the forefront of the design.

With her “Minoan” collection, Katrantzou shed her reluctance to use Greek art in the creation of her fashions, but it has taken several years of exploring the world to get there. In Europe, she has won numerous fashion awards. She has worked in North America designing costumes for the New York City Ballet and has been recognized in Africa for an African nation-inspired design worn by Beyoncé at the Global Citizen Festival.

However, with this piece and this collection, it is evident Katrantzou has set her sights — and her heart — firmly on that small Greek island in the south.

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