Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The House of Viktor & Rolf

Article by MillaX for Fashion Sanity
I am someone who sees fashion as an art. Like architecture, fashion is an art of both aesthetics and function.
I tend to like designers who lean on the side of aesthetics. The more experimental and artistic ones. The ones that push the limits of creativity and weave narrative and idea into a wearable piece of art.
That is why I love Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Courreges, St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Phillip Treacy and Viktor & Rolf.
To me dressing is an opportunity to express my ideas through my appearance.
I first got hit by the work of Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren in 2005 when I spotted a stunning ivory satin dress with the words "I love you" written on red quilted cursive draped on a radiant Cate Blanchett on the cover of Harper's Bazaar..Then in one of the editorial spreads, there was the enigmatic, ethereal and unexplainably beautiful Tilda Swinton in the most improbable yet delicious coat I had ever seen.
This coat was a bed with pillows, bedsheets and comforter turned into a couture coat. Surrealism at it's best.
Viktor and Rolf have been staging the most theatrical and interesting fashion shows for a while now.
For their "Ballroom" collection a tribute to the glitzy art of ballroom dancing, they had couples of handsome men in white tie and tails waltz across the runway under chandeliers after the models strutted in star-spangly confections while Rufus Wainright crooned.
For their "Bedtime Story" collection where that bedding coat was shown, Tori Amos sang a lullaby at the piano in her haunting voice, in her silk pajamas.
Their "Russian Doll" Collection played on a tremendously interesting concept.
There was only one model slowly spinning on a revolving platform. Then the designers systematically layered piece upon piece of beautifully embroidered garments made of mostly of jute, playing on the matrioshka concept.
In the installation exhibit presented at the Barbican Art Gallery, this atmospher of dreaminess and surrealism was exponentially amplified since the exhibit did not only present the actual garments in an audiovisual format along with the projected video of the actual fashion shows but in a parallel installation showed the same garments on antique Bebe Bru dolls made to look like the original models all in different rooms of an enormous doll house that is the center of the exhibit and lends it a precious and playful beauty.
The most defining pieces of all of their dramatic collections including "Blacklight", "Atomic Bomb", " Bedtime Stories", "Flowerbomb", "On Strike", "Harlequin" , "The Fashion Show" with its complicated scaffolding as intrinsic part of garment, "One Woman Show" with its vocal homage to Tilda Swinton, their muse, "No" and "Blackhole" Collections were all painstakingly and faithfully reproduced to scale on beautiful dolls in rooms representing a chronological timeline.
No word is more representative of their work than dreamlike.
Their clothes and shows are perpetual Dali-Lewis Carroll-Carlos Fuentes dreamlike states that echo the subconscious. The beauty, the anger, the sensuality and the primal fears that all of us experience while we dream, rendered in real life in silk and satin and bluescreen rolled into impeccably constructed wearable paintings.

This is the poster for the exhibit ... It was all over the London Underground.

This is a view of the imposing doll house, the centerpiece of the Exhibit...

Doll in dress from the Hyeres Collection

Dolls in reproductions of pieces from the "The Fashion Show" Collection.

All images courtesy of the Barbican Art Gallery, London.


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