VIKTOR HORSTING 27-5-1969 // ROLF SNOEREN 19-12-1969
Festival d’Hyeres - 1992
Viktor&Rolf was born in the series of designs composing our first collection in 1992, with which we won the Festival d'Hyeres. The collection's strange silhouettes and multiple layers, concealing and disfiguring the wearer's body, express the alienation we felt after graduating from Arnhem's School of Arts in the Netherlands and moving to Paris. Our expectations of the 'City of Fashion' ran high, but at first the place brought us closer to hardship than glamour! As these creations show, we felt dwarfed by the metropolis, and longed to hide ourselves from it.
L’Hiver de l’Amour
Loosely based on historical costumes, these three figures disappearing into a glass window were originally part of the exhibition L’Hiver De L’Amour at the Musee d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris. We studied the history of fashion in order to create: but we realised that we had to leave history behind in order to develop our own language of form.('He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.'-- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus.)
L’Apparence du Vide
Here, each of the five floating golden silhouettes casts its shadow, a black, wearable garment, on the floor. In the background plays the sound of a school class reciting the names of top models, as if learning the alphabet.
In the mid 1990s, the world embraced fashion's ephemera-- the supermodel, the designer as star-- rather than dealing with what it is about: the cloth and the form. We decided to explore this troubling emergence of emptiness, with the superficiality of gift-wrapping decorations and bonbon boxes as our starting point. The five sets show the overblown elegance of fashion, as well as its deflated flip-side.
Pursuing ways to sell our work, we sent out this limited edition, numbered shopping bag in 1996 as an invitation to potential buyers. The shopping bag, then as now, is our statement about commerciality as a dual force between the shop-'til-you-drop mentality and the ultimate emptiness of the bag.
Capturing the attention of the general audience by luring them to a presentation has always been difficult for unestablished designers. In 1994, we reversed the situation by compiling a catalogue of our most recent designs that was mailed out to potential buyers as well as the press. The catalogue marked for us a new beginning. A single Chromakey blue served as a screen onto which we projected our most basic ideas about clothing. We were wondering, for instance, about what a hem actually is. What does a hem do when it hems?
Despite our efforts to reach a greater audience our work was by 1996 still known only to a small crowd of insiders. For young designers it is not easy to keep up with the fashion institution's imperative of presenting a collection every season. Feeling exploited by the fashion system, we decided to go on strike for a season. The poster announcing our strike adorned the walls of Paris during the fashion week of March1996.
Dreams in Miniature
Here four phases in the process of the making, display and disposal of a collection are recreated in miniature form. Longing to realise our childhood fantasies of becoming fashion designers, we grew increasingly impatient with our situation as fledgling artists. We wanted to fulfil our dreams at that very moment, in spite of restraints of time and lack of resources.
Although reduced to the dimensions of a doll's house, our dream is realised here to miniature perfection, following the course of a creation from its birth in the imagination to its glamorous presentation in the photo shoot.
Le Parfum - 1997
In 1997 we launched our first perfume, in a limited edition of 250 bottles. The scent’s intoxicating effect, anticipated by its advertisement, can only be imagined: sealed by a wax cap, the flask cannot be opened. The perfume can neither evaporate nor give off its scent, and will forever be a potential: pure promise.
First Couture Show - 1998
In 1998 we presented our haute couture collection on a catwalk show for the first time. Haute couture is for us a laboratory in which we can freely experiment with ideas without being subjected to commercial constraints. We investigated aspects of couture and isolated various elements, such as accessories or ornaments. This enabled us a to reconsider their functions, and to reuse them in unorthodox ways. By leaving an embroidery ring attached to a dress, for instance, ‘embroidery’ was granted a relative autonomy, instead of its regular function as decoration.
The exploded effect of these puffed-up silhouettes is achieved by stuffing necklines with silk party decorations such as balloons and festoons. All the designs were shown twice: first in 'blown-up' form, and then without the colourful stuffing. The cloths suddenly appear empty, oversized, and less frivolous, leaving an a excess of loose hanging material that produces new draperies. The twofold nature of each creation arose from our mood in the last year before the millennium. Was the end of the world nearing, as Nostradamus had predicted, or would the end of 1999 be Prince's endless party?
In the winter of 1999 we appeared on the cat walk ourselves to dress a single model, Maggie Rizer, in nine layers of jewel encrusted dresses. After each layer, the small pedestal on which Maggie stood would rotate, giving the audience an opportunity to see a particular set on her before the next layer was laid on. When the final veil had been draped around her, Maggie was carrying approximately 70 kilos of richly decorated textures on her shoulders.
We intended this presentation as an ode to exclusivity and unavailability, the things that give fashion its aura. Once occluded by the next layer, the previous layer remained present on stage, but impossible for the audience to see.
Each of the items of the Winter collection was shown on the catwalk in two different lights. In normal light the entire creation was visble, while in blacklight, only the white elements could be seen.
Here, every outfit was completely embroidered with small bells. The show was held in a fog-filled room to create a space with limited visibility. The sound of bells swelled as models emerged from the shrouds of fog, visible for a brief moment before passing again into the mist. The audience heard an outfit first before seeing it, which was for us again an attempt at grasping the intangible, an essential facet of fashion.
READY TO WEAR
Stars and Stripes * Fall-Winter 2000-2001
In 2000, we were proud to launch our first commercial, ready-to-wear collection. Pondering over the meaning of global success, we took the stars and stripes of the American flag as a starting point for the patterns, and American classics such as jeans as basic designs. Most importantly, we presented our logo, the wax seal with our initials.
Tapdance * spring - summer 2001
Outfits based on showbiz were presented in a musical performance. We appeared on stage, tap dancing along with the models/dancers. Acting as
entertainers, we hoped to emphasise the role of the current fashion show as a form of entertainment.
Black Hole * Fall-Winter 2001-2002
The all-black collection was presented by models whose faces, hands and legs were painted black. Each of the sets was given a specifically strong silhouette with sharp outlines. Since there are no strong contrasts within a silhouette, it appears as if it is a cut-out. What does become visible are the different textures and patterns of the materials. The seemingly flat appearance thus obtains a certain depth, but a depth without ground.
This collection is a response to a feeling of loss and depression we felt at the time. We wanted to find ways of making empty shapes visible, taking the black hole as our lead.
Hymn Of Love * spring - summer 2002
If the black collection was a turning toward the dark side of things, our next collection was a complete surrender to the Good Life. The main concept is based upon the Holy Communion as a rite of passage to enter a community. Commitment to a particular way of living means also a commitment to uniformity, to... [YOU NEED TO FILL THIS IN FOR ME... JUST WRITE SOME NOTES HERE... MAYBE THERE IS A URL FOR THE COLLECTION? IF SO I CAN WRITE FOR YOU...]
Long Live The Immaterial! * Fall-Winter 2002-2003
Chromakey blue is used by the movie industry as background colour onto which all kinds of images can be projected. The weather forecast on television makes use of the same technology. From this colour, we created a series of outfits onto which footage of nature or cityscapes could be projected. Two gigantic blue screens set up behind the catwalk showed the same projection. Inspired by Yves Klein’s exclamation 'Long live the immaterial!' we wanted to show the immaterial as beautiful moving images, bound to disappear.
Flowers * spring summer 2003
A fashion show can be an event for the senses. In a space heavy with rose scent, models clad in flowing garments with colourful flower prints emerged on to the catwalk dancing and spinning as if in a whirlwind.
Shortly before, we had signed a contract to make a perfume with l’Oreal, and our flower collection was for us another way of exploring the wide emotions fragrances can evoke.
Tilda Swinton * Fall-Winter 2003-2004
In Scottish actress Tilda Swinton we have found our muse. The romantic use of the term 'muse' may carry connotations of passivity, but ours has played an active part in our creative process. We designed a collection for her alone as a tribute to her lively personality, her great beauty and her brilliant vision of our work. The soundtrack that played during the show is a text about the importance of staying true to one’s own identity and vision, written and performed by Tilda, who also appeared as one of the models.
HOLLYWOOD Modern Glamour * spring summer 2004
THE HUNT * fall -winter 2004-2005
FLOWERBOMB * spring summer 2005
TORI AMOS ** fall -winter 2005-2006
UP SIDE DOWN * spring summer 2006
THE SILVER COLLECTION * fall -winter 2006-2007
ANTIDOTE * spring summer 2007
For many years we longed for the moment we would be able to wear our own clothes. Our menswear line, V&R Monsieur, has now made that wish real. When we launched the menswear on the catwalk for the very first time, we simply had to show the outfits ourselves.
The musée de la Mode et du Textile is once again presenting a monographic exhibition with an invitation to two Dutch designers, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, to occupy the entire museum
space for a few months.
It is less a retrospective than a celebration
of ten years of creative activity by two of the most influential designers in fashion.
They first received public attention at the Festival International des Arts de la Mode in Hyères in 1993, one year after earning their diplomas from the Arnhem Academy (Netherlands).
Since then, Viktor & Rolf have continued to create performances and installations. They became major figures on the international scene starting in 1998 with their haute-couture collections, followed by ready-to-wear—using every possible medium
of expression to its fullest.
They are meticulous chroniclers of the fashion system and do not hesitate to accentuate certain of its codes. One of their first installations, “Miniature Doll,” in 1996, mimics the empire of fashion through a miniature reconstruction of a design studio, a fashion show podium and a boutique.
Their first collection, presented in Paris in 1998, celebrated the art of haute couture.
Using draping techniques, cutting methods,
fabrics and embroideries that define the luxury-goods industry, Viktor & Rolf celebrate the excellence of a discipline with a quasiconventional classicism that is almost jarring at times.
“We think that true originality does not consist
in breaking the rules, in seeking novelty for the sake of novelty, but in delving into personal emotions that are inseparable from the collective memory,” they confide before adding, “We want to celebrate our life as a utopia.”
The “Atomic Bomb” collection (1998-99 Autumn / Winter) and the “Babushka” collection (1999-2000 Autumn/Winter), during which the top model Maggie Rizer was successively covered with ten items of clothing added one atop the other, confirmed their status as avant-garde designers.
In March 2000, leaving haute-couture for ready-to-wear, and better prepared to consolidate the aura of a label that wanted to expand to encompass every field of design and distribution, Viktor & Rolf continued their critical analysis of fashion, while remodeling silhouettes through forms and counter-forms.
Each collection countered the previous one and prefigured what would come. The “Black Hole” exhibition, all in shades of black and presented for the 2001 Autumn/Winter collections, was followed by “White” for the 2001 Spring/Summer season, then “Bluescreen” (2002 Fall-Winter), a collection
of immaterial motifs against the blue blackground used for video effects.
Designers of excess and spokesmen for a new Surrealism that has buried the minimalism of the 1990s once and for all, Viktor & Rolf continue to surprise by opening the range of possibilities to every gesture that fashions the image of a label and of its designer. Each of their appearances is
therefore an autonomous performance that redefines the status of the fashion designer.
As tap dancers at the end of the “Tapdance”
fashion show (2000 Spring-Summer) and as clones of themselves during the “Monsieur” show, which they presented on their own for their first men’s ready-to-wear collection (2003), Victor & Rolf have used different media tools with skill and determination.
The exhibition they have conceived and created for the Musée de la Mode et du Textile incorporates site constraints (display cases, models, static presentations) that the two designers have dealt with in several other events.
Given the paradox of contemporary fashion—
in which designers become major media celebrities even though the public rarely has the chance to see their work, even the most talented among them—the Musée de la Mode et du Textile would like to make contemporary design more accessible.
FLOWERBOMB, ANTIDOTE , RUFUS WANWRIGHT, TILDA SWINTON, MONSIEUR, TORI AMOS .....