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Arts / Museums

There’s Something About Mary

The Brilliant British Fashion Designer Who’s Taking the Dallas Museum Scene by Storm

BY // 01.10.18

Ask Justine Ludwig, Dallas Contemporary’s director of exhibitions and senior curator, why British fashion designer Mary Katrantzou was made the subject of an exhibition, and the answer — of course — comes back to clothes.

“I’ve been following Mary’s career since her first collection,” says Ludwig, who will also curate the exhibit. “I came across it online and was completely mesmerized by her vision.”

Katrantzou is a perfect wardrobe match for any museum curator. She has carved out a brilliant niche that blurs the lines between technology, art, and fashion. Dallas Contemporary has also famously blurred lines of its own, redefining the art exhibition, consistently mixing fashion and design into its programming of shows that focus on traditional, contemporary art mediums.

So, this month, Mary Katrantzou — who is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her debut collection — joins artists Enoc Perez and Valerie Keane as the third component of Dallas Contemporary’s winter exhibition lineup.

The survey will count as Katrantzou’s first museum show, an overview of her work that includes clothing, accessories, fabric, and sketches.To have a museum exhibition at the ripe age of 34 is quite the coup — a testament to the impact she has made on the worlds of fashion and art, with her platform of pattern and texture, innovative textile design, architectural silhouettes, and intricate embellishment.

“My first collection was mapped around the idea of trompe l’oeil prints, specifically prints of oversized jewelry,” Katrantzou recalls. “That idea evolved into thematic collections based on perfume bottles, interiors, objects of art, everyday objects, and more abstract ideas such as symbolism or nostalgia. I want to challenge the boundaries of imagination and what is desirable in fashion.”

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Mary Katrantzou Spring/Summer 2011, “The Rooms Collection”

Katrantzou’s graphic punch and advanced textile creation is a testament to her ingenuity and quick grasp of new technology that greatly expanded design capabilities starting in the early 2000s.

“One of the most important influences in my work were the advances in digital printing,” she says. “The digital revolution allowed me to dream, turn the surreal into reality, and use print as a vehicle to elevate dressing into statement- occasion [clothing] that tells a story.”

Katrantzou’s sculptural aesthetic, graphic prints, and otherworldly ready-to-wear collections caught the eye of many of our city’s most fashionable. One of her first forays into Dallas came early in her career, around 2012. In town for a personal appearance and trunk show at Neiman Marcus Downtown, Nasiba Adilova hosted a cocktail party in her honor. The designer has since expanded her close ties to Dallas, visiting often and most recently joining Adilova at this year’s TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art. It’s no surprise, then, that her museum debut would happen here.

Katrantzou will appear at Dallas Contemporary to discuss her upcoming exhibition on Thursday, January 11 at 6 p.m. 

“Mary, Queen of Prints” at Dallas Contemporary, January 14 through March 4. 161 Glass Street, 214.821.2522; dallascontemporary.org.

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