On Feb. 3, Katrantzou will unveil a collaboration with Villeroy & Boch, her latest venture in a busy two and a half years that saw her ink deals with Bulgari and The Rug Company; design rtw collections and couture; marry her long-term partner, and give birth to her first child, a boy named Michael.
In an exclusive interview, Katrantzou said the 10-year anniversary extravaganza in her native Greece was a seminal moment for her and the business, and helped her to craft a plan for the future.
“The show was so directional, and so rewarding for me and for the entire team. It was purposeful and different, and helped me to shift my perspective about how a collection could be shown,” as well as how creativity and commerce can marry on the runway, the designer said.
Each of the 23 spring looks she sent down the dramatic, open-air runway explored a different technique or idea originating from Greek philosophy: A quote from Aristotle was transformed into beaded fringe; ideas from algebra or trigonometry influenced the drapes and geometrical structures in the silhouettes, while intricate feather embellishments were made to resemble olive branches, a symbol of peace and victory in ancient Greece.
“That show was my love letter to Greece, but it also sustained us during the pandemic. We were inundated with orders, and it kept us going,” said Katrantzou, who continues to sell pieces from the spring 2020 couture collection to private clients and brides.
The designer, who gave birth two weeks ago, and is living with her son and husband in Greece, is still selling Mary Mare, a year-round, size-inclusive rtw collection featuring her signature graphic patterns and bright colors.
A year ago, she unveiled a handbag collection with Bulgari. The campaign was fronted by Natalia Vodianova and photographed by fashion photographer Hugo Comte. That collaboration with the Italian jeweler is ongoing.
In early 2020, Katrantzou released a collaboration with The Rug Company. Despite a quiet launch, sales were strong, and the move allowed the brand to experiment with its prints and connect with the end-consumer in new ways.
The relationship with Villeroy & Boch was forged before the pandemic, and Katrantzou said she sees it as her long-awaited entrée to interior design.
“My mother was an interior designer, and I studied architecture and design. But I never thought that I’d start with ceramic tiles, I thought I’d take baby steps, designing fabrics and wallpaper,” she said.
Katrantzou is the first designer to collaborate with the German manufacturer in more than 20 years. Her collection is called Victorian and is inspired by butterfly collectors, the geometry of Victorian tiles, and the 19th-century mosaics on the floors of Villeroy & Boch’s headquarters in Merzig, Germany.
It also draws from Katrantzou’s fall 2018 collection, which had a scholarly — and old-world — air, referencing Pointillism, Bauhaus and Victoriana. The tiles’ butterflies, busy geometric patterns and bold colors also speak to Katrantzou’s affinity for collections of things such as insects or postage stamps.
Katrantzou said the collaboration has allowed her to look at patterns “outside the female figure, and to be guided instead by the power of interiors to create an extension of one’s aesthetic.”
Dr. Jörg Schwall, managing director of Villeroy & Boch tiles, said collaborating with Katrantzou “is a natural evolution in taking the brand in a new direction, and offering design aficionados the opportunity to create their own aesthetic using tiles from this inspirational collection.”
Looking ahead, Katrantzou said she’s keen to pursue long-term collaborations so that she and her team can invest in their partners, and spend substantial time on planning and design.
“It is a big responsibility to design these product ranges. There is so much to learn, there are challenges to face, and you want these designs to have longevity,” the designer said.
She added that when she was in the full flow of designing seasonal rtw collections in London, there was never enough time for collaborations.
“I always felt a frustration. There was a pressure to deliver, and we were always rushed. Now, the dream is to build long-term partnerships, and a rapport with our partners and their teams,” Katrantzou said.
Fashion will remain the core of the business, but it won’t be like old times.
The Mary Mare collection is thriving, and the designer has kept her London studio open, but has downsized from two floors to one. Katrantzou she prefers the idea of staging a statement couture show to the seasonal rtw merry-go-round.
“The Temple of Poseidon gave me great freedom, and it marked a new chapter,” Katrantzou said.