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There Are 750,000 Stitches in One of Mary Katrantzou's Fall Dresses

The queen of kaleidoscopic prints tells us how she really honed in on craftsmanship for fall 2014.
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Mary Katrantzou doesn’t rest on her laurels. She made a name for herself with eye-watering kaleidoscopic prints, continued to fascinate us with 3D embellishments, surprised us when she stripped it all back to a muted palette of gray and monochrome last fall -- and this season she has pushed forward once again. Gone were the searingly bright colors and fluoro-fabulous flounces, and in their place was a serene luxury that left us breathless.

You could see an almost pious devotion to her craft, from the moment the opening look appeared in all its floor-grazing, pleated lightness, a lustrous scroll of embroidery running down the front and setting the tone for the entire show. Richer and richer the dresses became: Appliqué on top of lace, embroidery on top of appliqué, guipure on velvet, chainmail on silk...a succession of techniques so extravagantly labored that it was exhausting to even think about.

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And, unsurprisingly, exhausting to create: "There are 750,000 stitches in one of those lace dresses," Katrantzou told us backstage after the show. "We worked with a Swiss mill to create it and from start to finish it took 20 days to make -- actually we are lucky it even arrived in time for the show." She continued, "It felt very new to me because that craftsmanship – even though it existed in previous collections – wasn’t our main focus before. Because we had pared back the silhouette we could concentrate completely on the intricacies of each look." Last fall, Katrantzou’s stripped-back show drew mixed reviews from fashion press, but it seems now that by pulling back and focusing on silhouette, she was able to pave the way for a collection where shape and surface were perfectly balanced. But as always with Katrantzou, there’s more than meets the eye. A closer look showed the lavish embroideries to be made up of quirky symbols: road signs, smiley faces, sale announcements and family emblems. "Originally the collection was going to be all about uniforms: construction workers, boy scouts, city-boys in pinstripes –- but I got more and more interested in the symbols associated with these than the uniforms themselves, and that became the focus –- drawing these symbols together and working with them to make them into something beautiful."

Photos: Imaxtree