As with any other form of art, fashion is a reflection of the times, and as we continue to develop new technology that makes everything more convenient for us, so too do we use technology to innovate fashion. This was how the digital print trend in fashion grew, and now, it’s being hailed as “probably the greatest innovation of 21st-century fashion.” Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Christina Binkley has said that “vastly improved digital printing technologies allow designers to innovate while beefing up their brands.”
Among the many designers who have begun to use digital print technology to create their looks, there is one undisputed queen: Mary Katrantzou. Katrantzou is an Athens-born designer who grew up among the visual arts, with a mother who worked as an interior designer and a father involved with textile design. She moved to America to study for a BA in Architecture at the Rhode Island school of design, before transferring to Central Saint Martins to complete her BA degree in textile design, but it wasn’t until she graduated that she shifted her focus into womenswear, earning an MA Fashion from Central Saint Martins. Right off the bat, Katrantzou’s designs wowed audiences as she opened the 2008 graduating show. Themed around trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewellery featured on jersey- bonded dresses, her designs were whimsical and showed off the illusions that digital prints could accomplish in fashion.
A year later, her first ready-to-wear collection debuted at Spring/Summer London Fashion Week 2009, and achieved show status the following season. In less than ten years, Katrantzou has gone from opening her graduating show to winning the Swiss Textiles Award in 2010 and signing exclusive deals with a renowned fashion aggregator to begin to sell her collections online in 2014. The success of this young designer is apparent, and as she has begun branching out into other different styles, she has even been chosen to design costumes for the New York City Ballet.
When asked why she thought Katrantzou’s work was so successful, Ruth Chapman, CEO of fashion boutique Matches, told The Guardian, “Two main things: She cuts her dresses beautifully, so they fit and flatter the wearer, and secondly, her prints are extremely clever. They stand up as works of art in their own right, which makes her dresses highly collectable. Her designs always make me feel uplifted.”
While Katrantzou has begun experimenting with other styles, she maintains that prints will always be part of her collections. “Everyone wanted a change and was ready to move on from prints,” Katrantzou says. “We want to evolve into a bigger vocabulary and have a range of depth in the collection that we never had before.” However, she adds, “Prints are an entity, and they’re perfect. It’s crucial to keep the prints as well.”