Mary Katrantzou F/W 2016
Mary Katrantzou F/W 2016

While there is nothing concrete to necessarily support this hypothesis, I’m going to guess that Mary Katrantzou made a trip to Nashville, Tennessee in some form or another. When one is watching a fashion show at London’s Covent Garden, the last thing one is likely to expect is a soundtrack that starts with Dolly Parton and ends with Tammy Wynette with a little bit of Loretta Lynn through in between the two. The highly reflective silver foil floor? Sure, that not too surprising. The hundreds of silver mylar balloons everywhere? Odd, but within bounds for a Katrantzou show.  But the country music felt odd for such a storied British venue. Even more interesting, though, were the number of Brits actually singing along with these old songs from the 1970s.

As always, the clothes themselves were all about the textiles, contrasts in texture as well as color. Facilitating Mary’s country-western theme were icons of the American West: angels, butterflies, gingham checks, hints of flowers and lots of hearts. Touches of denim mixed with satin and lace with silhouettes from the early 1970s that were feminine but full, contemporary but with a strong classic aesthetic.

Colorful leather carefully quilted around star shapes look almost as though they were borrowed from the old Ryman Auditorium wardrobe closet. At first, I found the leopard print in some of the coats a little curious, but digging into the archives a little, sure enough, there were plenty of female country stars from that era wearing the exotic animal skin. We’ll forgive them for not being more sensitive as we are now. Headscarves, pleated skirts, and long dresses were perfect for the era.

If there are any shortcomings, it is in what was missing from this collection. Miss Katrantzou is young, so she would have relied on pictures from the era for her inspiration. I have very vivid memories of the real thing, though, and am a little disappointed that there are no cowboy boots in the collection. The platform shoes are interesting and add a nice, modern touch, but a couple of good boots would have helped. I also found it interesting that there weren’t an over-abundance of sparkly things such as sequins and rhinestones. Country-western stage fashion from the 70s was all about the shimmer and shine. Rhinestones and sequins dripped from the stage of the Grand Old Opry, even on men’s fashions. The late Porter Wagoner, who discovered Dolly Parton, would be disappointed.

An exact copy of the past is never really what we want, though, is it? Katrantzou’s collection is bright and colorful, something that is wonderfully different for fall/winter, especially in the UK where palettes tend to be more dull. And, as the closing song reminded us, we were never promised a rose garden. Still, this was a lovely and exciting collection that fits well within the Mary Katrantzou catalog. Good show.

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