William Hendry for Mary Katranzou
‘Arresting, interesting, Katranzian’
William Hendry is the Head of designer of Womenswear at Mary Katranzou. Just as he was finishing his MA at Central Saint Martins he got an interview with Mary Katranzou which of course went well. His talk was really informative and gave a good insight to how they work at Katranzou, how he works and who he is.
It’s common knowledge that digital print was revolutionised by Mary Katranzou and I have long been an avid fan of her work. So hearing that William would be giving a talk was simply amazing.
Now the way they work at Katranzou is that they have a show collection which is very over the top, very ornate – semi couture. They then have a commercial collection which is a dissimilation – still a lot of artwork but on simpler easier shapes such as; sweatshirts, shirts, puff dresses, gowns, shift dresses, jackets and so on. Lastly they have the resort collection which is a lot more about garmentation – presenting a finished product.
‘Making a detailed garment without any detail’
One thing he said early on when talking about his BA collection verses his MA collection as that his BA collection was his attempt at trying to please everyone and other people’s expectations – he got a 1st for the degree but ended up hating the collection. That’s because it wasn’t necessarily what he wanted to do. Learning from this he went on to do his MA with the mentality of pleasing or satisfying himself rather than others. As a result he created a collection he loved which was based around bonding fabric together – seamless in presentation and production, no fastenings or stitch. A collection that focused on techniques that helped him in the job he then got with Mary K.
‘Satisfy yourself’ after all it’s going to be your name on it
Through his presentation he went on to talk us through the collections they had gone on to do over the years, how they were made, inspirations and the thought process behind them. What happens is all the pieces you see in a collection will have been designed by Mary but in a collage form. They don’t necessarily look like the finished product, as a lot of development goes on, but every idea will have stemmed from the initial collage.
From the first collection he did which was unbelievably complicated because – you know – it’s Mary. To the most recent collection SS16 which was ‘based on intergalactic gypsies going to Spain’. Basically a collection ‘based on where you go in your aboriginal dream time’. He is constantly trying to push himself to learn more, do more and just keep the mind stimulated.
Their first Resort collection is when they started doing three seasons a year rather than two –
They got a new member of staff in the design team so they did a new season – naturally
One thing he likes about collaborations – which he learnt during Mary K’s collab with Moncler was that collaborations present an opportunity to learn something that you didn’t know before. It shows you how ideas can be disseminated in different ways. To illustrate this point – he was on a trip to Istanbul and whilst on the train he happened to notice a woman wearing a t-shirt with an illustration of an Mary K dress he had designed. He took a picture but of course he didn’t tell her that. The point though is to always be observant of your surroundings as inspiration can come from anywhere. In his word ‘it sort of just happens’.
Another example, they did an SS15 collection which featured quite a few pompidou dresses. Carolina Gonzalez who runs the Walkabout Foundation; a charity which funds research to find a cure for paralysis and donating wheelchairs to people in need around the world; saw and loved the ‘cake a flake’ and ’ivory’ dresses from their Fall 2012 collection and some necklines in their SS13 collections. She requested for a one of a kind based on those to be made for her wedding. Thus was born the first ever Mary Katranzou wedding dress which Carolina wore the whole night till 7am the next morning – a sign of a very good wedding dress.
So it’s safe to say that continuously working with different materials is better than just sticking to what you know. For Katranzou it is essential otherwise boredom encroaches.
Another example of this is their Spring Summer 13 collection. They design banknotes so you can’t replicate them for forgery – so naturally they decided to try and replicate them. So they created a collection that had ‘punches of black to soft pastels with banknote swirls’.
The next season they decided to not do any colour – William wanted to create a collection that looked like it was evaporating into the air around it which is impossible – his words not mine. So where fabric is limited you then introduce ideas through set design and lighting to help achieve the overall look of evaporation. To do this edges on garments were pulled so there was no definitive line so when in motion they move accordingly. With this collection they also started looked at doing things in embroidery rather than print as people were getting too good at it and they wanted to create something that could not be easily replicated.
Autumn winter 14 was the first season they did without print they are constantly trying to look at different techniques, presentation and fabrication. Looking at how they can put their own spin on it and make it Katranzian.
This brings me to the last point:
‘Always think to yourself what is it about what you’re doing that makes it different to others OR is it really the same but you’re just doing it a lot better’
William knew he wanted to be a designer from the age of 7. He would try and dress his mother and sister who often rejected his suggestions. So decided to design and sell clothes to people who would wear them.
He is constantly researching, reading and looking at anything to do with garments even to how Hilary Clinton only wears trouser; to how David Cameron didn’t do his tie properly; to how Jeremy Corbett had his button undone – whatever it is he’s interested. His ultimate goal is to reach a point where he knows everything there is to know about clothes.
His talk left me with a lot of food for thought, he encouraged us to think about who we would be as designers if we had our own brands – who would we want our work to be next to? Where would it be presented, a rail or mannequin, ready to wear or couture? I also learnt that William loves the colour navy and he hates mood boards ‘I can’t work with them I find them very scattered’ – a man after my own heart.
Another thing he hates is when designers are asked – who is your woman? Then they reply she is a strong confident woman who knows what she wants. His response to that “Come on really? Where are the clothes for women who just aren’t feeling great. Where are the clothes for people that kind of just need that reassurance”. Safe to say he is a designer with your best interests at heart.
- If you ever want to design shoes, design an ankle boot with a two inch heel – it’ll always sell
- Find out what you like and don’t like – though think about why you don’t like something as that will tell you more
- Find images of things that you just like whatever it may be – inspiration is everywhere
- Working with something that you don’t necessarily like can stimulate something that you didn’t even know
- If you’re going to do something – do it to the absolute best that it can be done.
This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire