Mary Katrantzou Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

After two consecutive seasons chockfull of her now signature trompe l’oeil dresses, not to mention two seasons of radical praise from the entire fashion world, Mary Katrantzou approached this third season in the spotlight with an understood concern. How do you move on when you’re sitting on gold? Well, she’s keen enough to know that the lampshade skirts will someday lose their original appeal. Wiser to ford new rivers, than to let that marvelous series in her repertoire go stale.

Katrantzou’s beginnings, as one can easily imagine, are in textiles. So, sitting at her computer, waiting for Photoshop inspiration to kick in, Katrantzou comes across images of the crushed metal sculptures of John Chamberlain; those were followed by the ornate, repetitive algorithms of flower beds in nature. Industry/Nature – Mass Production/Natural Orders – Cars/Flowers. Working dichotomies in place, the next order of business was tackling a new silhouette. Where her past collections focused on strictness of form, here Katrantzou was much more generous, which made everything much more accessible, where almost everything she made before looked like it belonged on the wall of a museum.

Shift dresses came with asymmetric sleeves and diaphanous trains of printed chiffon, but the eye-trickery didn’t totally go out the window. Birds, fish and flower prints were intermixed with Mylar to give the forms their hallucinatory glow. The most astonishing trompe l’oeil, because she couldn’t completely give it up so easily, were the prints of metal cans. And yet, nothing looked quite as astonishing as the golden butterscotch metal obi serving as the frontispiece of a short, above-the-knee dress, with a bed of turquoise flowers lining the floor-length train.

It got slightly overwrought with the horizontal beds of different colored flowers going across a tailored suit – a real head to toe look. This same approach worked well for Alexander Wang a week ago, here, not as sating. But what about that final dress, encrusted with real blackened and crystallized metal cans, interspersed with metallic flowers in an awe-inducing 3D effect down the skewed hem of the last halter dress? Best guess is that’s one of the few going straight to the museum.