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khaleej times Friday, November 26, 2010



The arT of being designer

Mary KaTranTzou

ThIs emergIng dIva combInes fanTasy and surrealIsm To creaTe a new wave

Stephanie Rivers


f you have ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show or to see a Tim Burton film, you understand the realm of fantasy, surrealism, whimsy and play. The fashion designs of Mary Katrantzou are that — and much more. Voted as one of the designers to watch out for in 2011 in London, Mary Katrantzou is a runaway design star of the digital print revolution that has been going on for quite some time. Her surreal patterns are reminiscent of the late Lee Alexander McQueen, especially his last collection for the house, as well as Giorgio Versace. Katrantzou’s fantastical prints are generated via computer where her fertile imagination has infinite possibilities to generate prints as fast as her fingers and pixels will allow her. However, it is not only her prints that are happening at hyper speed; awards and accolades are too. Katrantzou is the recent winner of the Swiss Textile Prize, which awards the top winner with a €100,000 prize, beating out the likes of Jason Wu, Duro Olowu, Alexander Wang and Adam Kimmel. Not bad for a relative newcomer. Her S/S 2011 collection was a Burton-inspired trip through a trompe l’oeil-littered landscape that picked up the works of Magritte and Dali along the way. Her body-con dresses showcased her best prints to date with her hyper-real prints being infused with fashion set interiors from Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton photo shoots. The bold saturated colours mixed with paler shades made for striking contrast on several pieces. The 3-D shapes — Victorian lampshades as skirts, angled pelmets on shoulders and skirts, along with swathes of fabric that draped the backs of skirts and dresses à la curtains and visible boning — exemplified Katrantzou’s skill as a designer, visionary and sculptor. With each look, the show spiralled further into the world of surrealist beauty, with floating palettes of metallic, velvet, candelabras and fringe guiding you along the way. In lesser hands, the lampshade skirts, pelmet curtain reference and chandelier earrings could have seemed on the border of the radical and ridiculous versus floating into the azure sea of the rapturous and divine. The looks were, at first glance, very literal, but on closer inspection, made the observer return home to view their interior with fresh eyes. Mary Katrantzou’s designs are not for everyone; one must be bold and self-assured to wear such sculpture-inspired pieces and body-con silhouettes. For those feint of fashion heart, you can enjoy a smaller dose of her bravado through fragrance. Katrantzou has partnered with fragrance house Six Scents to create a perfume called Trompe L’oeil. (Katrantzou is available in the Middle East at and her fragrance can be found at

Katrantzou’s fantastical prints are generated via computer... the possibilities are infinite

The greaT fLiP-fLoP debaTe T

here are many debates going on regarding appropriate footwear for evening dress and black-tie events. A recent citing that stoked the fires of the ongoing ‘appropriate’ shoe debate about flip-flops was thanks to leggy model Hana Soukupova. Ms Soukupova attended an event in a mini LWD (little white dress) with embellished flip-flops, looking effortlessly beautiful and spot-on for warm weather climates. For purists, the debate of wearing a casual shoe anywhere other than at home or for a quick dash to the corner grocery store is a punishable offence. It does not matter if a woman endures hours of pain as long as she has the right look, from head-to-toe. After all, at every turn, magazines showcase uber heels on every starlet from here to Bollywood, to America and back again. You have Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Jumeirah Janes and the Cavalli set all teetering around in heels, why buck the norm? Well, for one thing, to be individual and second, to be comfortable. When I saw the picture of Soukupova languishing about in such comfort it made me want to run right out and by a few pairs and revel in the newfound freedom. Then, I remembered that I am not a 6-foot leggy blonde, so the effect may not be the same. — Stephanie Rivers

on Trend: TriLby haTs


hese days, the English hat, the trilby, is very popular. Everyone from Alexa Chung to Rihanna to Salma Hayek has been spotted sporting one, cold weather not being a prerequisite to wear one. They come in a plethora of fabrications — straw, wool and denim — and add instant style and panache to any outfit. The trilby is the perfect go-to accessory for a bad-hair day, a sleek side ponytail, lip gloss and blush, one is

ready, set, go. To be on trend with FW 2010 menswearinspired looks, pair your trilby with a menswear blazer, a nautical stripe shirt, black leggings and ankle boots. Wear your hair blown straight with just a bit of relaxed wave and what more could one ask for? Trilby hats can be found at H&M, TopShop, Forever 21, ICONIC and in the men’s sections of major department stores. — SR

My Weekly International Fashion Column  
My Weekly International Fashion Column  

My weekly fashion column printed and distributed in the Middle East. Responsibilities include overseeing design and writing content