Mary Katrantzou: The Queen of Prints

Designer Mary Katrantzou collaborated with Bvlgari on an unprecedented capsule collection

The Queen of Prints

From birth, Mary was destined for a life in fashion. Born in Athens to artistically-inclined parents, it was only a matter of time before she would taste success. Her mother, an interior decorator, spends days and nights submerged in making aesthetic decisions. Her father, the heir to the ‘Sportex’ shoe brand in Greece, was active in the textile industry. As a child, Mary was a free spirit. In her teens, she began a journey down one path, but eventually wound up following another.

Never satisfied with making small steps, she chased her dreams by leaps and bounds. Mary eventually settled on studying fashion design in London. Her talent and ingenuity were quickly noticed, and it was not long before she was in a prestigious position. Mary’s work has been embraced to rave reviews by the fashion world, including the American version of Vogue, and has won several awards. Her trademark fabric prints have been featured in fashion houses such as Victoria’s Secret, Longchamp, Adidas and others. Influential women such as Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Beyonce, Adele, Sarah Jessica Parker and Cate Blanchett have worn and praised her designs. As for Mary herself, she wears clothing by Αlaïa, very rarely her own, and almost always black. She comments, “I think there are two types of designers: those who wear their own clothing and defend their brand, and those who wear monochrome to shift focus away from themselves and their work. I definitely belong to the second category.“

Mary Katrantzou creations

Were you born and raised in Athens?

Yes, I was. I left for Rhode Island when I was 19 to study.

What did you want to study?

Architecture. That’s why I went to America.

How did that come about?

It had entered my mind from an early age. I was quite creative as a child and I realised that I had to do something creative in life.

Did fashion cross your mind?

No, fashion never crossed my mind. It was natural, I think, because where I grew up, there were no fashion houses with their own collections. I was certainly interested in everything that had to do with design. However, there were no programmes in Greece at the time, nothing to lead me to where I am today as a professional. Back then, if someone loved design, there were two choices: either the Fine Arts or Architecture.

Influential women such as Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Beyonce, Adele, Sarah Jessica Parker and Cate Blanchett have worn and praised her designs.

Did you rule out the School of Fine Arts?

I didn’t rule out anything. It was simply my best option; by choosing to study architecture, I channelled my creative energy into a profession that I could fall back on. In any case, I’ve been drawing since I was a child. Throughout my teens and all through school, I was constantly drawing. At Athens College, I began exploring the field of design. I remember my college professor encouraging me to do so.

Did your teacher have an impact on you?

To be honest, I wasn’t listening to anyone at that age. My professor was the only one who took my passion seriously..., a little more seriously than I! That is when I began thinking about turning my passion into a career.

How did your family and those closest to you react to your passion?

I grew up in a very creative environment. My mother loved what she did. Between her and my grandmother, they somehow influenced me subconsciously to do what I do. If you ask my mother, she will say that I’ve been designing clothes since I was 5. I don’t remember; with everything she says, I’m half-convinced that I was sewing at 6 (laughing)!

So, have you come to any conclusions on how one finds their way in life?

Among all the things you do, follow the one with the most intensity! If you follow what makes you feel creative and happy, sooner or later, you will find your calling in life. I don’t know if our instincts lead us; I believe that if you trust your instincts, they can play massive roles in determining fate. However, I think that many people question their instincts out of fear. Coincidence also plays a role in life. For example, had I not met my boyfriend after my first year of studies, I would not have wound up in London, where he studied. To not waste time, I looked for a quarterly programme that might interest me. What I found was a programme in textile design. When I began, I realised just how much I enjoyed working with colours; until then, it had never crossed my mind. If not for Mario and London, I would not be where I am today.


What does talent actually mean?

Talent is conceptualizing where you want to be in the future. Whatever your talent may be, what matters is that you work hard to cultivate it. When I decided to pursue a masters in fashion, I knew nothing about it. I remember spending three months just reading to educate myself on the past 100 years in fashion. You need to have ‘a madness’ inside of you, a hunger to learn as much as you can about your passion before you dedicate your life to it.

What have you realised about yourself today that you weren’t conscious of when you began down this path?

There isn’t room for everyone in this industry, creative or not; even when I started out, I had to compete to earn my shot. Back then, I didn’t have the ambition to create my own fashion brand. As a person, I was insular and didn’t allow myself to dream that big. Though, at some point, I had to start. I had to grow up and learn to walk with confidence down an unfamiliar path. Somehow, I found my way. Strange…? This is the first time that I have said such things in an interview!

Eventually, a door opens in ourselves to illuminate the darkness.

I think we all carry this light within us, though we may be unaware that it exists until it manifests. Why is this? Perhaps we are not mindful enough or do not give ourselves time to look deeper inside.