Mary Katrantzou AW17: Necessary Nostalgia

Most of Katrantzou’s audience on Sunday was far past the age of watching animated films, but thanks to a collaboration with Disney to reanimate scenes from its 1940s’ experimental classical concert-film Fantasia, the designer gave showgoers nothing short of childhood magic. Accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the collection cascaded in softly with the opening notes, initially in digitized and pieced together florals, followed by a subtlety the designer only recently introduced to her brand in the form of wearable, understated patterns.

 Zipped blazers and cocoon coats alike came in iterations of plaid and checked tweed, often in 40s silhouettes harkening back to the style of cinematic film sirens. Delicate leather gloves and oversized collars gave way to the glamour of full-length pastel yellow and blush pink fur jackets held shut with large floral enclosures.  Flocked velvet mules and platforms dipped in silver and gold glitter added a sense of unpredictability to some of the more put together ensembles.

Of course, precisely patterned embellishment played a key role in Katrantzou’s collection overall, with beaded insects and embroidered bugle daisies and dandelions strewn across the grid of otherwise subdued overcoats. Shrinking plexiglass swan tiles reminiscent of an Escher woodcut first appeared on the hem of a checked tweed ensemble before inspiring the metallic threaded pattern shown on peplum tops and matching trousers, Katrantzou’s take on monochrome.

On a series of floral and lace jacquard dresses, soundwaves made of multicolored bugle beads met on zippered seams, but Katrantzou’s beadwork shone strongest in looks that recreated scenes from the film in two Swarovski-fringed and shimmering shifts. While the designer reproduced digitized film cells in velvet on the zip-up dresses that followed, it was the movement of her embroidery that reanimated the 76 year-old frames for the modern day. We’ll surely be seeing alot of these hero pieces in the next six months, in editorial pages and on the red-carpet alike.

In the most literal take on Katranzou’s inspiration, sugar plum fairies floated in repeated patterns up and down printed tulle skirts while centaurs, first seen on a deep emerald velvet pantsuit, were reimagined in crystals on the torsos of models Jamie Bochert and Jessie Bloemendaal.

Fantasia explored areas such as prehistoric times, the four seasons, nature, heaven and hell, and the heavier themes of light vs darkness and chaos vs order, but used imaginative, artistically choreographed animation to offset any severity.  In light of today’s socio-political climate, it seems the designer is doing the same, tapping directly into the power of nostalgia to distract and delight, and provide a wonderful escape. Isn’t that what fashion is for?