Mary, Mary, Operandi

Mary’s Fall/Winter 2014 show during London Fashion Week was bursting at the seams, and buzzing even louder. Over the past four seasons in particular, she’s become one of the most defining highlights of London’s heritage-free new wave.

Mary Katrantzou’s growth and devlopment of her design aesthetic and brand image has been exponential to say the least. Her print ethic first came to my attention five years ago, and I’ve been an avid admirer ever since – the eye to fit as much detail as Mary does on one garment without overwhelming the body, and passersby, has been hard to come by since Lee McQueen (R.I.P.). The only others that immediately spring to mind with skills in the same vein are Prabal Gurung and Dolce & Gabbana.

So, needless to say, Mary’s Fall/Winter 2014 show during London Fashion Week was bursting at the seams, and buzzing even louder. Over the past four seasons in particular, she’s become one of the most defining highlights of London’s heritage-free new wave. But, for all of the movement’s neon stars, pom poms and odd shoe shapes, the Mary Katrantzou brand has made it very clear that the woman is to wear the clothes – the clothes, often née giant foil lolly wrapper, must not wear the woman – by making her garments blindingly practical from a distance, and mind-blowingly intricate from any number of steps closer.

Ahead of seating, the Swarovski Collective team had warned me that the collection was, to quote, “out of control”, “ground-breaking”, and “I want to cry”, which basically gave the diehard fan in me some major heart palpitations. Thirty-four ingenious takes on lace, embellishment, asymmetry, symmetry, pleating and embroidery, later, I really did want to cry. Not one look-at-me digital print in sight. Only things nobody had ever seen before – jewel encrusted fur, multi-shaped lace, python chainmail. Mary had had her epiphany and it would only be super-stardom from here on out.

At the show’s conclusion, though my seasons on the show circuit are comparatively limited, a crowd eruption would be an understatement. Except for Katy Perry being boo-ed at Moschino, I have never ever heard such an explosively genuine chorus of appreciation for any designer’s spotlight moment.

Not even for Karl.

I’m serious.



The following morning, I packed up my temporary life in London and dragged my kid brother onto a plane to Milan, daydreaming about that multi-shaped lace and those darling little sequined and Swarovski-ed robots on the hour, every hour.

I must have been raving out loud to the Moda Operandi team when I saw them between shows – because when I came to from my Tiki reverie, I was sprinting up Rue Turbigo towards Mary’s Paris showroom, to dance my way around her sales teams and shoot what I could in an hour with my favourite Moda Operandi ladies, before my next appointment.

I’m going to say it: it was the most humble-brag inducing, super speed hour of my entire month on the circuit.

Feeling the weight of every piece we tried on, going cross-eyed marveling at the ridiculous degree of hand-worked detail and perfect symmetry, and hearing Mary’s team explain the collection, its components, and its sell-points to buyers around me was both surreal and boisterously exhilarating for all on the scene. It helped that Hayley and Bettina are both hilarious, and doubly as hyperactive as I.

Upon showing my Mother these images for approval (only half a joke) before publishing this, she squealed and said that she liked “this type of garments on you, Margaret”!

My Mother does not squeal.

My Mother does not say she likes anything.

Hear that, Mary?

Pincop Lace DressJumbar G Embroidered Fur JumperDirectopios Embroidered DressTikiman Embroidered DressMvk Suede Azure Multicolour Bag

All by Mary Katrantzou, available for pre-order at Moda Operandi


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


For project enquiries
General enquiries