By Aswan Magumbe
ary gained notoriety after attending Central Saint Martins for MA Fashion Textiles, where she opened the show and soon inherited the moniker of ‘the queen of print’. From there, she went on to accumulate even more accolades and success for her illustrious prints that displayed a clear admiration for all things grand. She’d capture the attention of audiences far and wide with her skillful dimensions, a nod to her previous dabbling in interior design. And that same creative etiquette has remained by her side.
Having previously collaborated with the likes of Longchamp, Bulgari, Adidas and Topshop on different collections, she’s ready to dominate the high street yet again in a colourful collection for Lipsy. Gliding amongst a tight crowd of admirers, influencers and industry folk in a private viewing of the collections at London’s Louie bar, the designer spared some time to speak exclusively with The Stack.
“I was not welcoming to the idea of a collaboration initially,” she said. Faced with hesitations that stemmed from supply chains to ongoing collaborations off the back of the pandemic, and most importantly, becoming a mother for the first time, another project wasn’t something she was particularly eager to take on. But the positivity and enthusiasm of the team “ made us feel like we could do anything.”
There lay the beginnings of what would be a flourishing collaboration. The collection boasts a range of beautiful pieces from sheer, flowing shirts to high-neck tea dresses in Mary’s infamous ombre valley prints. Despite the designer’s initial hesitations, it is a perfect pairing for the Lipsy customer, the Mary Katrantzou fan but also the woman looking for something colourful for any summer occasion.
However, the process hasn’t been all fresh and floral. “We’re kind of getting there. You have to put into the mix that I'm also a first-time Mum, and that's the most complicated,” she said. “You don't have the time. You have to become decisive in many things.” Yet, this process allowed her to welcome this indecision (professionally) for the first time in a while, and rather embrace it. By doing so, she grew dependent - healthily - on her team, taking a back seat where necessary and it’s benefitted her business greatly. “I wanted to get all this detail right but you can lose the bigger picture. Now, I've already seen a shift [in the bigger picture],” she said. “I don't have time to think about the details if it doesn't affect the general basis.”
As with most mothers who welcomed newborns in the pandemic year(s), it required an unprecedented level of preparation but Mary speaks of her gratitude for that time. “I was lucky enough to become a mother at a time where things were at a standstill and really enjoy the process, not feeling the stress of having a show for example. I think that would have been killer.”
At the time of our conversation, Mary is in London for work purposes, balancing time between here and her Greece home, where her son and husband are. “It's nice to be back, and as a mum. I’m looking forward to when we come back with him as a family because now it kind of feels like I’ve left my child so far away,” she said. “But it definitely has changed me in so many ways, and made me appreciate different things more deeply.”
Rightfully so, the prospects of becoming a mother while working or running a business is daunting, especially with the establishment of statistics that disadvantage working mothers. In the UK, ONS reported that in April to June 2019 the employment rate for mothers was 20% lower than fathers with dependent children - not to mention the prejudices that still plague workplaces for working mothers. But Mary offers some much-needed insight into being one:
“Motherhood is a revelation in itself and there's bravery that comes with being a mum,”
she gleams. And even the stats support this - despite the numeric decline, it means that 3 in 4 mothers are working regardless of whether they should or shouldn’t be. (Go mum’s!)
Since becoming a mother, she’s shown more willingness to try new things, meet new people, and be open to possibilities and opportunities. “Before I was a bit more stuck in a certain routine and a certain way of doing things,” she said, but she’s left that behind to embrace a new way of living - one that benefits her business and growing family. “I think the fact that you mature, and you're no longer a child - I mean, your inner child is still alive, right?,” she said. “I'm all for protecting that innocence and youthful curiosity but at the same time, there's a layer of maturity that slowly grows and becomes part of you that makes you think about your business differently like how you want your business to grow in 10 years time? That's really my first baby.” And though she wishes she had been more efficient ten years ago when she started, she’s let that go to honour the shifting focus she now has to adapt to.
“It's allowed me to become a lot more decisive and military in many ways,”
she said. “We're so strong as women. You see more and more women role models juggle both and find their way to navigate it so that we should never be afraid,” she said.
“We shouldn’t always have to feel like we need to push ourselves beyond our capability. We are extremely strong, all women,
so I feel quite strong.” And I think I’ll leave it there.
The Mary Katrantzou x Lipsy London collection is available to shop now at Next.
"Motherhood is a revelation in itself and there’s a bravery that comes with being a mum” - The New Working Mother Navigating Life With Another Baby To Juggle
By Aswan Magumbe