This is the first exhibition of the Dutch duo’s entire careers’ collections, many loaned and many painstaking recreated to be exhibited on lifesize dolls. The centre piece was an enormous dolls house with miniature dolls in key pieces from every season. In each lifesize area, the actual catwalk show was played behind. It was a lot to take in, a mindboggling display of pure genius.
It’s rare in modern life to experience such incredible vision. Here was attention to detail on so many levels, cerebral, visual, aural, it all fitted and no creative stone was left unturned. As for the debate on, whether it’s fashion or art, it is most resoundingly conceptual art, created via the medium of fashion. Once you understand their thinking, the clothing becomes even more incredible. Every garment worked in isolation, but every whole collection created a new greater structure, each outfit growing a concept on a little more.
Viktor and Rolf understand the meaning of ‘brand’ better than most, realising that they need to say something before they create. It all starts with words, they said in a recent Elle interview. Even their ‘Flowerbomb’ fragrance began with the name and a concept…. the fragrance merely formed a conduit for their expression. This unusual and reverse way of working is also visually represented in their upside-down store in Milan. Reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s The Twits, it’s designed to mess with your head, albeit in a grand and lavish way.
Le Parfum is the fragrance that would never be smelt. Sealed shut with wax, a hundred bottles of pure potential. Designed to create hype and create hype it did. More interestingly in the early days when they felt unsupported and outside of the industry, they staged a protest sending models out on the street with banners saying ‘ Viktor and Rolf on strike’ This was guerrilla marketing at it’s most beautiful.
Viktor and Rolf are peas in a pod, they describe themselves as ‘one person.’ They wear the same clothes, finish each other’s sentences and have through their work, had an ‘ongoing conversation’ that has lasted 20 years, Funny to learn that this symbiotic relationship does not however extend to their dogs, who hate each other apparently!
Art or fashion - What do you think?