‘Around 13, 14, I Started Wearing Primarily Black’

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Photo: Joana Avillez

In Fashion Feelings, we’ll be talking to notable people about how fashion changed their lives. Here, designer Mary Katrantzou on the development of her personal style and how it differs from her line’s aesthetic.

Growing up in Greece, trends come to you late. Kurt Cobain was cool in 1997, after he died. My fashion sense went through that delay in evolution as well. Around 13, 14, I started wearing primarily black. That’s stuck to this day, though the fashion sense has changed. It was Doc Martens, then it was rave shoes. It was always black jeans and a T-shirt, and now it’s a black A-line dress. High school was all-black apart from summer holidays, where neon and floral prints could happen. Anything goes by the beach. During fashion school and in my early 20s, it was lots of denim: denim jeans, or a denim skirt over denim jeans, with a T-shirt and denim jacket. Other than that it was a black skirt with a tight knitted top. I still wear a lot of knits, that’s more of a silhouette thing. It’s flattering to my body and I feel comfortable in that. I got to 25 in that kind of strict formula.

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Katrantzou as a child in Greece.

And I think, being a woman designer, that there are two types: There are designers who embody their own brand and wear it every day and live that lifestyle, and there are designers where the collection and the theme and how you build it come from a different place. Being a little bit more detached and seeing it as a creative allows me to push myself to places where a dress is not there just for its practical function. It’s also there for a woman to feel, there’s an emotional attachment that they’re creating. That’s a thing with fashion that’s very intangible, but it’s there.

I absolutely love color, and I love a woman wearing color. When you’ve worn black for a long time and you work so much with color, it becomes more of a uniform. You don’t put that much thought on your wardrobe and what you’re wearing, you put that within your collection. What’s great about fashion is that it allows you to project different emotions, different parts of yourself, especially now. Women can have different personalities throughout different phases in their lives, or interchanging within a month or within different events that they go to. I find that liberating, even though I don’t dress in that way. I wish I had the lifestyle that I would change up and have fun with fashion in that way. I have fun in designing it, but it’s nice to see women have so much fun wearing it.