The Mary Katrantzou exhibition—according to the curator who helped pull it together
Our interview with Mary Katrantzou on the Dallas Contemporary’s retrospective of her work highlighted the importance of her collaboration with curator Justine Ludwig. It was Ludwig, who helped the designer select pieces, group them, and drive the messaging of the exhibition. Who better than to tell us more than Ludwig herself?
Two years ago, I had the honor of wearing a dress by Katrantzou to Two x Two. All intricately worked lace and emblems, the dress felt heraldic, something intended for a contemporary Joan of Arc. It’s amazing how transformative clothing can be. Katrantzou’s clothing is powerful and in wearing one of her garments you feel like a warrior woman, high priestess, or queen.
Dubbed “the daughter of the digital revolution” thanks to technology’s role in her work, Katrantzou has pushed the limits of textile design. Her work is witty. She draws from countless art historical, cultural, and pop influences to create her works, necessitating her trademark innovative techniques. For the designer’s first stand-alone fashion show presenting her Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection, she drew source material from magazine images of rooms and home decor. The prints are perfectly placed to accentuate the female body while also playing with perspective and form. This collection brings to mind the famous scene from Gone with the Wind where Scarlett O’Hara wear a fabulous dress made from curtains. Playfully, Katrantzou too features curtains. In her case, they are trompe l’oeil chiffon that flutter down from the textile interior prints. Even at her most avant-guard, Katrantzou’s garments are wearable—as I can attest to from experience.
Katrantzou has a unique vision in her designs and the ability to pair whimsy and wit, with finesse and strength. Over the past few weeks the show has been open, I have loved witnessing visitors come to the Dallas Contemporary wearing her clothes and posing among the mannequins. It brings to light just how challenging it was the edit down Katrantzou’s ten years of output to just under 200 garments. She is a powerhouse of creativity and getting to spend the last few months engrossed in her practice has been a joy and an honor. —Justine Ludwig
The Details: Dallas Contemporary, 161 Glass Street. “Mary, Queen of Prints” on view through March 18.