Mary Katrantzou – A New Fashion Designer to Watch

I’ve been following the Spring 2011 Fashion weeks unfold via my updates, and it’s been interesting to watch as the coverage moves from New York to London to Milan.  There are some truly amazing clothes out there!

But one of the designers who caught my eye is an up-in-comer from London named Mary Katrantzou.  Her whimsical cityscape prints are quirky and fascinating, and immediately made me think of Elsa Schiaparelli.

Schiaparelli, if you’re unfamiliar with the name, was an Italian designer of the 1930’s and 40’s who was heavily influenced by the Surrealist movement.  She broke into fashion with her unusual trompe l’oeil sweaters (pronounced “trump loy” and meaning “to deceive the eye”), and later went on to collaborate with artists like Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau on some of her clothing and accessories.  Her greatest rival was Coco Chanel, who referred to Schiaparelli as, “That Italian artist who makes clothes.”

Here are some of Schiaparelli’s most famous designs:

Elsa Schiaparelli Trompe l'oeil Sweater Cocteau Painting Dali Lobster Dress Shoe Hat
Trompe l’oeil sweater Cocteau Painting Lobster Dress Shoe hat

Schiaparelli’s kind of quirky offerings haven’t been seen for 75 years – until Mary Katrantzou showed up, that is.  Like Pucci and Lily Pulitzer, Katrantzou likes her prints, and builds her collection around themes.  For Spring 2011, she opted for famous interiors, saying, “I wanted to put the room on the woman, rather than the woman in the room.”

With that ambition, and using digital print techniques Schiaparelli could only dream about, Katrantzou has assembled some amazing pieces that will be talked about, admired, and referenced for years to come:

Katrantzou Spring 2011 Katrantzou Spring 2011 Katrantzou Spring 2011 Katrantzou Spring 2011

Mary Katrantzou, Spring 2011
Photos courtesy of

Now obviously, her designs aren’t for everyone.  But if you’re looking for something really unusual – wearable art – give her a try.  And remember the name:  Mary Katrantzou.

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