Mary Katrantzou: Fantasia
“It felt the right time to bring a lot of things together and be able to think about the collection in a different way––and be brave,” said Mary Katrantzou, who was focusing mainly on film noir, the mid-century movies whose heroines had strict ’40s silhouettes and, as their name suggested, leaned towards black and other dark shades like purple or inky blue.
But it is hard to imagine Mary separated for long from the colors, patterns, and wild digital prints of her earlier days. So the other movie in her sight line was Fantasia, the 1940 Disney animation that was a meld of various film concepts with a pioneering stereophonic sound.
Backstage, after the show with its lush, dark velvet colors (that were quiet by Mary’s standards), the designer spilled out her message.
“I was looking into magic kingdoms and that took me to Fantasia,” she said.
“The first time I saw it, I was so inspired by the way the music came together.”
She was also galvanized by the interplay of male and female, with garments that mixed tailoring with embellishment and masculine fabrics with florals. More inspirations piled on including the work of the artist M.C. Escher with an exploration of geometric and naturalistic forms.
Long show notes are not always helpful, and I found the classical music played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra a clearer representation of how Mary, the founding mother of wild digital printing, was thinking in 2017. There was no sense of the cartoonish part of the film.
And the designer, who once made clothes that appeared to animate china plates back in 2012, had reduced her crockery decoration to small prints that might be teamed with checks. This was an apparently deliberate way of playing down the flowers, which were very much reduced in size and impact. The result of mixing geometry and nature could literally be called keeping flowers in check.
The show was charming in many ways and colorful with its fluffy yellow collars or pink furry sleeves. But something has been lost in the translation from big and bold blooms to today’s more timid, if graceful, patterns.
Peter Pilotto: Art for fashion’s sake
I was lead to the “art table” at the Peter Pilotto show, plonking myself down on a mushroom shaped stool by furniture designer Martino Gamper and surrounded by a crowd of makers, painters, movers and shakers.
What a great start and statement of intent from Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos, who are enthusiastically in favor of art for fashion’s sake. The venue alone, with leafy trees living up to the name Palm Court in the Waldorf Hotel, suggested an artistic glamour, only compounded by patterned rugs and paintings.
But the design duo had the sense to make their clothes artistic but totally wearable, as in tweedy padded coats and sweaters inspired by Nazca quilting from Peru (de Vos is half-Peruvian). According to the show notes, there were as many layers as there are in a hand-worked rug––embroideries, scribbled velvet, crosshatch tweed, and metallic weaving.
The duo had a word for these effects: “decorative utility.” And that did not mean much more than the very good sense of making fashion, however decorative, wearable. In the case of this Fall/Winter 2017 collection, that meant the clothes also had the advantage of looking right for a cold climate.
Padded outerwear has moved a long way from the ubiquitous puffer jacket, with giant embroidered patch pockets in wintry rust and green laid over a blue and white surface.
Such a collection really required an ever-vanishing list to understand the many techniques and fabrics. But one of the charms of this label is that the designers do not take themselves too solemnly, offering a twist of powder pink velvet over red military trousers as well as the more complex pieces.
Significantly, among the many patches of quilting and sweaters with colorful squares, there was hardly a flower in sight. It seems that blooms, apart from an abstract, artistic kind, are wilting in imaginative fashion.