Escapism seems to be the reflex of London designers, who are serving up Crayola colors, Eighties music and loads of sparkle as antidotes to scary, confounding times.
In a charming display, Mary Katrantzou projected signifiers of happy childhoods — from Lego blocks and Spirograph to inflatable armbands — into her intricate, couture-like constructions. While occasionally overcharged, the clothes made you smile.
“We also did jelly shoes because they’re really nostalgic to me — but made them into kitten heels,” she said backstage, pointing to boots that called to mind a fish net market tote. “It was about having a lot of fun, and bringing the exuberance, but pushing the craftsmanship.”
The show opened with a series of bubble dresses in glossy nylons, the skirts resembling upside-down hot air balloons. Drawstrings added an outdoorsy vibe to puff-sleeve tops decked in racer stripes, or anoraks in vivid colorblocks or oversized florals.
Friendship bracelets were stretched and shaped into slinky cocktail dresses and sinuous skirts that exploded into a silky fringe. They were ravishing.
It turns out Katrantzou’s penchant for intensive pattern — hallmarks of her collections — stem from one of her favorite childhood crafts: Hama Beads, which are placed one-by-one onto a pegboard and then fused with an iron. Their pointillist texture was rendered as tablecloth checks and geometric prints for athletic-tinged dresses and loose wrap jackets.
“I’m an Eighties baby, but a lot of it has to do with just feeling really free to reinvent something and looking back at it as an adult and seeing, ‘What does that mean?’” she mused backstage. “The things you used to do as a kid became the building blocks of your creativity and your personality.”