Trompe L'oeil

01.19.13

Mary Katrantzou and Garjan Atwood, in O Sense

British designer Mary Katrantzou is known for her extravagant prints. Now an artist has reimagined them into vivid photographs. By Lisa Larson-Walker.

British designer Mary Katrantzou has become known for her use of intricate prints: her designs have featured everything from lavish Renaissance gardens, Olivetti typewriters, and even international currencies.

She was bound to inspire someone. Enter Garjan Atwood, a multi-talented digital artist who unveils an unusual new photographic project, in O sense. Atwood has created a series of surreal, computer-generated graphics that prominently feature Katrantzou’s designs. Starting from 3-D digital sketches, Atwood generated the composite reality of each scene with a combination of original and stock photography. Each model is an amalgamation of many different women; eyes from one, lips from another. These female hybrids are layered into a wallpapered environment in harmony with the patterns of their garments. The illusion is convincing in its detail, and reads like a futuristic fashion spread from a remote and ornate world. Though the images complement her sensibility, Katrantzou was unaware of the project until its completion, and promptly applauded it on Twitter.

Though he finds influences in all media —includingthe work of Alexander McQueen, Miles Aldridge, Nick Knight, and Yoann Lemoine—Atwood says his primary inspiration comes from Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which are known for their painstaking detail. Knowing this, Katrantzou’s influence on his work comes as no surprise. “[She] is not afraid of unexpected mixtures of bold color and architectural lines,” he told The Daily Beast in an e-mail. “Her designs are part of an atypical feminine universe fed by exotic iconography—a grandeur baroque transported to the 21st century through the aid of new technology (and a hint of kitsch). I love it.”

Atwood crafted each portrait of in O sense as stages in the life cycle of a new couple, inspired also by his wife of four years, artist Vittoria Regina. Atwood crafted each portrait of in O sense as stages in the life cycle of a new couple, inspired also by his wife of four years, artist Vittoria Regina. From honeymoon to power struggle to commitment, Atwood says that each photograph embodies a stage in a couple’s progression. Though the project reads like an editorial fashion shoot, it is a complete trompe l'oeil, composed in a virtual reality.