Viktor & Rolf

July 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

In due time, many of the dresses shown throughout the Haute Couture collections will reappear on red carpets the world over. But you’ve got to hand it to Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, who considered how dresses might look if they were actually made from, well, red carpet. After conceiving second-skin, tattooed ballerina dresses last season, Viktor & Rolf came up with what they referred to as “a meditation on a contemporary obsession.” They wondered whether it would be possible to coerce such a rigid material into wearable volumes, describing the knotting, wrapping, and tying techniques as “spontaneous gestures.” The duo insisted that there was neither positive nor negative subtext—that the intention was “nonjudgmental.” They admitted that the idea was, quite simply, “a big challenge.”

Where other designers begin with aesthetics, Viktor & Rolf often start with language, and in this way their collections can end up projecting the esoteric cleverness that comes naturally to graduating-year fashion students. This time, however, the painstaking execution—whether shaping the pile into sculpted pleats or cutting and placing the spots with such deliberate irregularity—helped balance concept and craft. Except, that is, when the concept proved too heavy in the physical sense; keeping the material above knee-length proved more compelling than a weighty cascade of carpet down the front of a long, vaguely Renaissance frock.

The undone hair, au naturel makeup, and boyish rug-covered oxfords made clear that this was not a dissertation on Hollywood glamour. Instead, the leopard, zebra, and giraffe patterning—all hand-cut, shaved, and hand-applied to a pliant netting base—suggested primitive glamour (not to mention workmanship; these pieces took upwards of three hundred hours to complete). All those cape shapes, blankets bearing oversize bows, and sacks with well-placed arm slits are not destined for play-it-safe starlets; more likely they will be collected and, one day, exhibited. But as the models moseyed down the tapis rouge runway (supplied by Dutch manufacturer Desso) to be shot by fashion photographers rather than paparazzi, the realms folded in on each other and the medium became the message. All the while, a group of percussion students from Amsterdam provided a rhythmic soundscape from an upper balcony, clapping according to a syncopated composition by Steve Reich. They drew out the applause after the audience hurried off. It felt appropriate, if not self-congratulatory.
—Amy Verner
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Viktor & Rolf

July 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Fashion News

It’s been thirteen years since Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren were on the Couture calendar. They staged their comeback tonight in honor of their label’s twentieth anniversary—”there’s no better way to celebrate,” Rolf said, adding that it was also an effort to “divide our wearable side and our conceptual side.”

High concept it was. The show was set in a mock Japanese garden, with painted raked sand and a few outcroppings of foam rocks. To start, Horsting and Snoeren walked out, sat down back-to-back, closed their eyes, and proceeded to meditate for a good five minutes. Coming as this did at the end of a week of Paris menswear and Couture shows, one photographer in the pit couldn’t resist providing a soundtrack of “ohm”s. Their meditation over, the designers took their places on either side of the stage and the models began appearing.

All twenty wore the same black fabric, a technical silk that had the spongy look of neoprene, and flat ropy sandals. The first look out, a shirtdress, had strange, deflated volumes above the knees in front and below them in back. Having made her circuit, the model sat down and Snoeren pulled the hem of her dress down over her ankles. He had turned her into a rock. The process repeated nineteen times. One particularly sculptural dress was big enough to cover a model’s entire supine form (its black fringe was meant to resemble grass); another tent dress cloaked not only the kneeling model wearing it but also the girl who was curled up in a fetal position next to her. After the last model was transformed and before the curtain fell, Horsting and Snoeren gave each other a bow.

Instant Zen garden. When asked about the project’s genesis, Viktor said, “We’ve been running around for so long, we thought, let’s enjoy where we are. Our current state of mind is mindfulness.” The thoughtful, clever show was a credit to meditation, a brainy chaser after a week of chiffon and crystals. The best part: Conceptual didn’t come at the cost of wearable. There were some great coats and dresses here; we liked look 9 in particular. The word backstage was that half of the collection has already been snapped up by a collector.
—Nicole Phelps
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Viktor & Rolf

July 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Our review will be posted shortly. See the complete collection by clicking the image at left.
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