#SuzyLFW: Playing Hot And Cool With Print
Mary Katrantzou: Novelty And Nostalgia In Print
Mary Katrantzou, who is rarely seen without a smile on her face, was positively beaming backstage before her colourful show. Surrounded by nylon raincoats, patterned dresses, a handbag featuring a duck that would normally attract a four-year-old and shoes with thick soles, she rushed out her thoughts:
“It’s about childhood memories and nostalgia and things you used to do as a kid that became the building blocks of your creativity and your personality – and then looking at the way of executing it at a couture level,” the designer said in a whirl of explanation.
What memories from a childhood in Greece had she developed for the spring/summer 2018 show?
“I was looking at a friendship bracelet you had as a kid – but used the idea to hand-braid a triptych of dresses like these that are all knotted by hand,” the designer said. “It’s really about scaling up the friendship bracelet.”
Mary had more explanations about turning childish adventures into tomorrow’s clothes.
“Think of hot air balloons and camping when you were a kid and using that for a silhouette – restricting and releasing to play with that balance,” she said. “And doing hand applications that feel kind of tech-y with Hamma beads. You used to do posters with them as I child, putting them in the oven and you get all those patterns.
“I started looking at bubblewrap and the pleasure that it brings to children and adults,” she concluded. “So we used bubblewrap fabric with heart motifs; we did broderie anglaise with spiral graph embroidery – that kind of brought the same silhouette from the beginning to the end.”
Everything that appeared in the colourful collection seemed to have a story. I spotted a plastic bag that turned out to be inspired by the inflatable arm bands that young kids wear when diving into the sea.
Mary continued with her unstoppable list; “Inflatable bags, skirts made out of Lego, jelly shoes and kitten heels. Was there anything that the designer had not used to create this kind of luxurious nostalgia inspired by her childhood in the 1980s?
The mix of childhood and adult references was ingenious and mostly effective, although there is always a creeping pattern fatigue before her shows end. But it is thanks to Mary and other designers of her generation that pattern is back in fashion – and too much fun is never a flaw in fashion.
Peter Pilotto: An Acid Pastel Trip
Christopher De Vos and Peter Pilotto have found inspiration for their clashing, wildly colourful patterns across continents, but this time around, they were not stretching the limits of print.
The influence for the soft colours that the duo described as “acid pastels” was Japan. And without any suggestion of kimono wraps or even their patterns, there was a gentler expression of the designers’ spirit.
“We are always about colours,” said Peter. “But this time we really wanted it to be about something – a fashion trip that we never did. So we went to Japan, to Okinyawa. We wanted somewhere where we could do an ikebana course and we were in this very zen atmosphere. We wondered: how do we do tropical, but in an interesting, washed-out way – and I think Japan really inspired us.”
The result came in gentle mixes of turquoise and lilac or orange and lemon with only some floral prints blended in – all very low-key in comparison to earlier collections.
It was one of those shows when you feel that the theme meant more to the duo than to the audience, with Peter raving over “Japan’s 1970s vibe – amazing architecture, amazing colours, amazing culture, amazing everything.”
Yet the true excitement from Peter Pilotto came later in the day, as the designers unveiled what they called a Townhouse Takeover. As part of an interior design project in London’s South Kensington, the designers worked with their own sense of colour and pattern and with designers such as furniture creator Martino Gamper and glass blower Jochen Holz.
Buzzing around the room at a private view, Christopher De Vos, who had even put up multi-coloured coat hangers on a rail, explained how much it meant to them to be involved in this project alongside fashion. It seems to be a typical London design trait: the willingness to stretch their creative talents beyond clothes.
The Peter Pilotto Townhouse Takeover exhibition is open to the public from 18 September to 15 October, 2017 at 3 Cromwell Place, SW7 2JN