24/02/2015

HORROR VACUI


Kenophobia, also known as horror vacui is the abnormal fear of empty spaces. In art, this concept exists too and is defined as "the filling of the entire surface of an artwork with details". The first time this word made its appearance was during the Victorian Age when people used to decorate their interiors with tons of ornaments and every possible trimming. At this time, we were far from minimalism, we are not even sure they knew this concept. Mary Katrantzou does know the concept of minimalism but it is not the word we'd use to describe her work. She is not a minimalist, never was and never will be. Her Autumn Winter 15 collection presented two days ago at London Fashion Week once again has proved it. The designer is well-known for her mastery of the visual things. There are always plenty of things to look at, to watch in her collections. We can remember her debut with her standout taming of the digital prints then, a few collections later, she proved to be an expert in hand-worked embroideries and embellishments and now, with her latest collection, inspired by this concept of Horror Vacui, she has gone even further, pushing the envelope by mixing noble fabrics (fur, brocade, sequins) with the cheapest ones such as plastic or PVC. Mary Katrantzou is never where she is expected to be. That's the trademark of a great fashion designer.

Pic via NOWFASHION

Her goal with this AW15 collection (and in a way with all the others) is to redefine the codes of modern luxury. Just like a Miuccia Prada who, collection after collection, distorts this concept by introducing disturbing pieces and statements, Mary Katrantzou wants to break this idea of a boring bourgeoise who matches the colours of her clothes and who never steps over the line. To do so, she has based her collection over one simple (but hard to execute) thing: contrast. Everything is a matter of contrast starting with the setting itself: a 3D foaming catwalk full of pink picots as if a flat catwalk would not have been possible for such a collection. Relief was needed to make a statement right from the start. The first contrast here is made obvious when the opening model, Jamie Bochert, makes her entrance. She is wearing heavy pumps on this soft, bubble-gum almost childish catwalk. The tone is set, nothing will be as expected. The first silhouettes are in heavy flannel, sober, grey, hourglass shaped (one of Mary Katrantzou's trademarks) but with a twist: here a strip of the same fabric as the ground on the belt, there a clutch still in the same material. Then, these first four "blank" looks are replaced by the same shapes but with something more as if a sudden flash of kenophobia had attacked the designer: "we need more, MORE!" she might have said. "We need paisley all-over, we need lace to design this paisley, we need brocade to go with the paisley and the lace, and we need plastic to finish the look!" There is a sense of never-ending outbid in this collection but contrary to other designers who never know how and when to stop, Mary Katrantzou is in control, she knows exactly what she's doing. She wants to transform the classical figure of the Victorian lady by adding modern or even futuristic elements. The paisley and the brocade are made with the help of PVC! We could just stop here, it would already give you an idea of the outstanding work she and her team have produced. It's all about mixing textures, creating textures out of the most common thing. Plastic is used here to take the showpieces such as the duffle-coats (Can there be something more classical than a duffle-coat?) or the furry ones into another dimension. The dresses too endure an extreme makeover. Still with this idea of duality, of contrast, they are made of brocade in rich, intense colours but are "cut" at the waist by a large band of plastic. Nothing in this collection is either white or black. You won't find a single look that is just made of brocade or any other luxurious fabrics. That would be way too simple for the tricky mind of Ms Katrantzou. There should be something more profane, more perverse in a way, something more to take this collection into the 21st century and maybe beyond. 

Pic via NOWFASHION


Pic by Piczo via I-D


Pic via NOWFASHION


Pic via NOWFASHION


Pic by Piczo via I-D
In a way and as we have already said, this approach to Fashion, this way of re-interpreting it is very much likely to Miuccia Prada's process. You should never take Fashion and trends for granted and you should always take the customers/buyers to an unexpected place. Simplicity is just like emptiness: barren, infertile, useless. If kenophobia is the fear of void, a word should be invented (perhaps there's already one) to describe the fear of simplicity, of obviousness because we are afraid of it. We are afraid of a fashion that would have no proposition, no goal, no perspective. We are afraid of those designers who design clothes to design clothes without having any discussion with Fashion itself. We are afraid of these trends that keep repeating themselves again and again, and again and again... We could give you names (we are sure some are crossing your minds) but we are not here for this. We are here to celebrate the genius of Mary Katrantzou because thanks to such designers, our fears are calmed down and the future seems bright.


The Detail Pictures come from Style.com






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