Viktor & Rolf Are Staging The Next Evolution of Fashion

Viktor & Rolf Are Staging The Next Evolution of Fashion

The designer-duo is charging ahead with avant-garde collections that make a loud statement.

The designer-duo is charging ahead with avant-garde collections that make a loud statement.

Text: Nadja Sayej

This weekend, the Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf stole the show at the Bread & Butter festival of style and culture in Berlin. The crowd roared with applause after the duo showed a new collection of decadent couture made from fabric discards—for an eco approach to design. On the runway, Viktor & Rolf always display profoundly conceptual works of art that are bold, daring and avant-garde. Take their recent Action Dolls show in Paris, where the duo’s oversized, cartoonish doll heads stole the show for their latest couture collection.

Soon, the designers will be celebrating their 25th year anniversary with a new book coming out with Phaidon and are collaborating with the Berlin-based online shop Zalando—who recently launched a new online concept shop. While Rolf Snoeren was at Burning Man, I chatted with Viktor Horsting at Soho House Berlin ahead of the runway show about the future of fashion and the art of protest.

What brings you to Bread & Butter?

We’re here to announce that we are collaborating with Zalando for a small collection. The runway show we’re presenting is our three most recent collections—Vagabond, Broken Dreams and Action Dolls. On the runway, it’s [main function is] to give people a sense of our most recent work, to get them in the mood of the collection.

What will be in the new collection?

The Zalando collection is being designed at the moment, it launches next year. It’ll be a small collection with around 20 styles and it’s based on the idea of recycling. It’s why we’re showing pieces on the runway because recycling is an important idea. It’s about sustainability and in the context of our work, in our Vagabond collection, we were thinking about our own history, an archive of our own fabrics: What does it look like when you really mix everything together?

The Action Dolls series you launched in Paris felt like a form of protest considering what’s going on in the world right now. Was it?

In some way, our work always has a certain level of rebellion or protest. Sometimes it’s a bit more exaggerated, other times it’s a bit less. We came to this type of doll because dolls have been a long-standing fascination of ours. But sometimes, we think the fashion world is so strange, it’s like a theme park. When we came to think of the fashion world as a theme park, you have mascots, dolls with big stylized heads and simplified clothing.

Anyways, when we draw our designs in our studio, the head is always really big. We start with a circle, so we decided to make the pieces exactly like our drawings. Perhaps active protest is called for, as much as you can make an act of protest in the fashion world.

How do you balance being critical with your artistic voice?

I think it comes with experience, but we don’t always strike the balance, [at times] we have gone off kilter. With this show, we wanted to show both sides. There are beautiful garments, which are wearable in their own way, even though they’re extreme. It’s not one idea, we like complexity.

Approaching your 25-year anniversary, looking back what do you see?

The first word that came to my mind was ‘struggle.’ No that’s exaggerating, I’m very proud of the work we’ve made and what we’re making. What keeps us going is the joy of doing something.

How have you seen the fashion industry change over past 25 years?

There’s a big trend of global domination of certain chains and brands, which was less the case before. The global presence by social media, that’s a tremendous change. We try to adapt to the system and work within it. Ready-To-Wear didn’t agree with us, now we’re trying to do it on our own terms.

What is the future of fashion?

Brands have moved into diverse territories in art, I think this will continue. But more so, will there ever be a Prada school? I wonder if brands will be much more than purveyors of clothing and accessories, it’s just a thought that came across my mind.

Can you tell us more about the book you’re working on?

We are working on a book, we hope to launch by the middle of next year. [The book is] designed by Irma Boom—a famous graphic designer in the book world. We had a catalogue for our Australia exhibition but this will be our first big book. It will be an art piece in itself.

VIKTOR & ROLF BERLIN FASHION SHOW
Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF BREAD & BUTTER PRESS

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