Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -


they would be on the fe­male form. It was a chal­lenge be­cause as soon as you put a print on a body, ev­ery­thing changes. But it was also a lot more ex­cit­ing than work­ing with cur­tains.”

Af­ter com­plet­ing her un­der­grad­u­ate course, she be­gan an MA in fash­ion at CSM un­der the tute­lage of Fleet Big­wood. “Mary ar­rived at CSM with no real knowl­edge of fash­ion but with an amaz­ing sense of colour that was com­pletely in­stinc­tive and at times very beau­ti­ful,” says Big­wood, the school’s head of print. “Her out­put was pro­lific. We could have a tu­to­rial on Tues­day and by Fri­day she would have 30 swatches de­signed to a very high stan­dard. How­ever, her rel­e­vance to fash­ion re­mained weak, so I sug­gested she look at the work of an air­brush artist from the 1970s called Michael English. This was the turn­ing point that al­lowed her to cre­ate the hy­per-real ef­fects she later gained so much suc­cess with.”

In 2008, Ka­trant­zou left CSM with a distinc­tion but found her­self in the midst of a re­ces­sion and in an in­dus­try still ob­sessed with the Phoebe Philo genre of min­i­mal­ism. “When I started, print was niche,” Ka­trant­zou says. “Peo­ple wore flo­ral or geo­met­ric but they weren’t used to ‘wear­ing’ a per­fume bot­tle.”

Top­shop res­cued her from ob­scu­rity by spon­sor­ing her show at Lon­don Fash­ion Week in 2009, and it was there that she gar­nered a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing some­thing of a print ma­gi­cian. The in­dus­try was cap­ti­vated by her abil­ity to cre­ate hy­per-real pat­terns from the most un­likely sub­ject mat­ter—fabergé eggs, pen­cils, spoons, vases, teacups— and then place them on bold struc­tural shapes that man­aged to be both ul­tra-mod­ern and flat­ter­ing. When Anna Dello Russo was fea­tured on The Sar­to­ri­al­ist blog in a Mary Ka­trant­zou per­fume bot­tleprint dress, the designer’s ca­reer went strato­spheric. “Anna has been a great sup­porter of mine,” Ka­trant­zou says. “She is very dar­ing and brave in her dress­ing, and is such a cham­pion of young de­sign tal­ent.”

To­day, Ka­trant­zou is one of Neta-porter’s best-sell­ing de­sign­ers and her col­lec­tions are avail­able in more than 200 shops across 47 coun­tries. Col­lab­o­ra­tions with Top­shop, Longchamp and, most re­cently, Adi­das have sold out in a mat­ter of days, and the designer counts Keira Knight­ley, Ri­hanna, Sarah Jes­sica Parker and ev­ery fash­ion edi­tor worth their

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