In their beginning Viktor & Rolf were laughed at, or at least misunderstood, when they were explaining that their vision of fashion would be closer to contemporary art, than couture.
Today Viktor & Rolf are critically acclaimed and every medium needs to create a buzz around them, if they want to stay in. That is definitely because Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are really talented artists, and therefore fascinating.
I know their artwork and design from a very long time, before flowerbomb, before the Tori Amos’ show, and of course before H&M. Thus so as to get rid of the "frustration" I feel around them getting mainstream, I will try to give them the credit they deserve and explain my vision of their art, with a long and decent post on that blog.
But first thank you Viktor & Rolf for fascinating me.
In fact those designers have well integrated that the boundary between fashion, design, architecture and fashion is blurred. This can be first seen in the their physical resemblance. They consider themself as a single designer, in the direct line of contemporary artist such as Gilbert and George for example, who they are often compared with. Both born in 1969, as they pretend, in the Netherlands, life put them in the same class at the Arnhem Academy. Since then, Viktor&Rolf have been rethinking what fashion and art should be, mixing absurd element, constantly playing with clothes and fabrics, inventing real shows, and fascinating objects, or visuals of their shop.
Milan shop windows.
Viktor & Rolf made their first trip to Paris with Le Cri Néerlandais, a group of Dutch fashion modernists who were said to be the new Antwerp Six. After the disbandment of the group, Victor & Rolf carried on together, and were launched with remarkable success at the art and fashion festival in Hyères, where they won three prizes. That was in 1993.
The following year, they made their debut at the L'Hiver de L'Amour couture exhibition in Paris. But it was seven years before Viktor & Rolf produced their first commercial collection, Stars and Stripes. In between, they have refined their style with ballooning silhouettes, layered collars and experiments with tuxedos. And from having originally said they wanted to create everything out of nothing, their predilection for sampling fashion history is growing stronger: Dior's starched New Look is traceable in an ironically stiff Barbie skirt in Bells (2000), Balenciaga's cape silhouette is used in Black Hole (2001), and YSL's Le Smoking pops up here and there. Viktor & Rolf celebrated their tenth anniversary as fashion designers in 2003. However making money was necessary so as to have the chance to continue creating, in order to survive. In that context and open to any form of creation, their perfume “FlowerBomb” came out and has been a commercial success. L’Oréal helped them to make that product reality. In 2003 again, they increased their output and myth, moving into menswear.
In 2004, they moved again to the art field, exhibiting in Tokyo and Stockholm. And that is in 2006 that they became stars when they collaborated with H&M presenting a mini-collection around the topic of marriage. That was the first time H&M was selling a wedding dress. The wedding between art and fashion, the wedding between two individuals becoming "the single designer" they are...When one starts a sentence in an interview the other one finishes it, performing again, or just trying to make fun of the asker, as an Andy Warhol would have done...
At the same time of the presentation of the H&M collection and in a logical way, they launched their first perfume for men : "Antidote". The presentation was a real show, where Rufus Wainwright was invited to sing. We can remember that Tori Amos was also invited to one of their haute couture show. The launch show for "Antidote" was fascinating since it was orchestrated around a ballet of men wearing tuxedos and dancing a waltz. The same concept was once again explored : two men becoming one, Viktor & Rolf being the same person, art and fashion too.
The last ready to wear show was presenting models carrying a light structure, highlighting the clothes as paintings would be in a museum.
To learn more :