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Resort 2016

Dew dress

Cotton poplin

Mary Katrantzou, London, UK

Follow the thread


The printed image is central to Mary Katrantzou’s aesthetic. She singlehandedly raised the profile of hyper-real and digital print with her first collection in 2009.

For Katrantzou, each print is designed around the garment and the garment simultaneously around the print. When creating Resort 2016, she was fascinated by the way Optical artists of the 1960s used stripes and depth of colour to trick the eye. Pleats were the perfect way to extend this deception.

On this cotton poplin day dress, Katrantzou takes this deception one step further. Using stripes and the clever placement of colour and enlarged floral prints, her design creates the optical illusion of pleating.

The hyper-real colour scheme was inspired by French seed packets from the 1890s, which she masterfully combined with Op art to create this floral spring collection.

Social Culture

A ‘resort collection’ is a trans-seasonal line of ready-to-wear clothing produced by designers and brands in addition to their biannual seasonal collections. Originally they were intended for wealthy customers looking to buy their holiday clothes ahead of the season. Until recently, these collections were often regarded in the industry as commercial ‘filler’ for the shop floor.

Today, pre-collections make up the majority of revenue for designers. This is in part because they stay in the shops for twice as long as seasonal ranges. Lighter, transitional pieces such as merino knitwear mixed with mini-skirts and sleeveless parkas target a global fashion audience. Customers from northern and southern climes can simultaneously shop collections despite their very different climates.

Who wore it

Alexa Chung wears a Katrantzou dress at the 2nd Annual Capsule Collection for Vogue Eyewear launch in New York


Some designers approach pre-collections as an opportunity to reinterpret their creative vision in a more wearable way, others to reinvent past bestsellers in new fabrics and colours. It enables them to test design concepts and explore burgeoning ideas without the scrutiny afforded to the high-profile catwalk presentations of their seasonal collections.

Although usually designed for womenswear, menswear designers such as Burberry, Prada and Gucci are starting to piggyback on the trend for season-less dressing. It allows designers to keep up with the constant demand for new clothing, but has come under fire for adding yet another event to the already-packed fashion calendar, piling pressure onto designers.

Craft Skills

Print has enabled Katrantzou to create a distinctive visual language. Her 2008 graduate show mapped out her design direction, with trompe l'oeil prints of oversized jewellery on jersey dresses. From the beginning, Katrantzou’s work has explored and challenged perception and perspective. She marked herself out early on as the spearhead of a new generation of designers embracing print in a new way.

Inevitably, print became a catwalk and high-street phenomenon and its aesthetic thrill was diluted. Katrantzou's challenge was to take it in a new direction, moving beyond digital print. Her Resort collections have provided the perfect canvas on which to experiment with surface design, streamlining and defining her design DNA.