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Mary Katrantzou on her Design Aesthetic, New Collection and Inspiration

Suzanne Rogers: Your name has become synonymous with bold patterns and bright designs. What are your favourite fabrics and colours to work with?

Mary Katrantzou: Fabrication and surface manipulation have become a key part of my design aesthetic. In recent seasons, my aim has been to portray pattern in ways other than through digital printing, and to innovate new mediums of creating fabric. It is about experimenting with surfaces not necessarily associated with fashion textiles, and making them wearable and luxurious.

Has drawing in a computer program versus on paper altered the way you work?

From the beginning I have always been more comfortable designing with my computer mouse than a paintbrush. In fact, I use my mouse as such. Because my designs are thematic, I can spend hours researching a certain subject and collating all my inspiration before collaging and working the elements around the female form. I ultimately build my design on screen before my team translates it into a pattern.

Technology has allowed us to go above and beyond with our textiles, too, letting us design custom laces, custom embroideries and a variety of techy fabrics such as moulded silicon.

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Tell us about your pre-fall 2015 collection. Where did you draw inspiration?

Tell us about your pre-fall 2015 collection. Where did you draw inspiration? For pre-fall ’15 I wanted to step away from my tradition of applying thematic boundaries to my designs. Traditional fabrication and artwork synonymous with fine craftsmanship and iconic patterns like paisley, tartan and houndstooth are the source of inspiration. Classic tessellations remain intact—their formations build the coat of arms for the “Katrantzou Klan”—while monograms appear in lace designs and patterns. Paisleys are formed from endless strands of typewriter keys fused with pencils, clocks and teapots. Houndstooth bricks cut from stamps weave an intricate web of pictorial ciphers, revisiting past collections including fall/winter ’12, spring/summer ’13 and fall/ winter ’14.

Has your Greek heritage influenced your work?

It’s funny because the reviews of my collections often suggest that I have been inspired by my Greek heritage. I can’t say I consciously make reference to it, but it must be ingrained in me!

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Let’s talk about the past. Who was your mentor growing up?

The first mentor I had was Louise Wilson at Central Saint Martins. She taught me to believe in myself and have strength in my convictions. Fashion design didn’t come naturally to me (I had previously studied architecture), but through her mentoring I learned how to use that to my advantage; to create something that was perhaps different to what I thought I should be doing. I miss her very much.

Is there someone you would like to see wear your designs?

Tilda Swinton. She has worn them in a few editorials and is a fan of my work, but to have her [personally] wear them would be a real moment for me. She is such an intelligent and interesting woman. I don’t have a muse, but if I had to pick one, it would be her.

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What do you do during your downtime?

I love spending time with my boyfriend, which I rarely get to do; he is so busy with work, too. We are very much “passing ships.” Visiting my family in Greece is also something I try to do at least twice a year. I love to travel. I had said to my boyfriend that we would go on a big trip for his birthday two years ago, and we still haven’t found the time. Hopefully we will make it this year!

Aside from fashion designers, who is your favourite artist?

Jeff Koons for his vision of modernity; Steve Jobs for transforming the world as we know it.