“With exquisite craftsmanship and dreamy silhouettes, sometimes made from tinkling bells or red carpet, the fashion artists Viktor&Rolf – a real Dutch national treasure – have been creating wearable art for the past twenty-five years in the most unique and singular style,”
– Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years.
Since their graduation in 1992 from The ArtEZ Institute for the Arts in Arnhem, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have collaborated on what they describe as “Wearable Art” by creating extravagant designs that explore the intersections of fashion and art. They started their label, Viktor & Rolf in Paris a year after graduation, and continue till the present day, a dialogue with the contemporary art world which is particularly evident in their extravagant and theatrical haute couture shows during the Paris Fashion Week. Alongside haute couture, Viktor & Rolf create a ready-to-wear line, scents, wedding dresses and a sunglasses line.
2018 marks 25 years of the collaboration between Horsting and Snoeren, and to celebrate their creative vision which has led to works of uncompromising beauty, Kunsthal Rotterdam just opened a retrospective exhibition curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot bringing together over 45 haute couture pieces, specially designed costumes for ballet and opera performances, custom-made looks for international stars including Madonna, and vast archival material documenting their design process. Unique to this exhibition is the inclusion of a number of looks from their work ‘Dolls’, replicas of familiar antique dolls now dressed in the most characteristic outfits of the Dutch fashion house. For their AW 2017 haute couture collection, Action Dolls, models in doll masks took over the runway showing off the collection in a theatrical manner. Other memorable collections include Van Gogh Girls (haute couture collection SS 2015), Performance of Sculptures (haute couture collection, SS 2016), Boulevard of Broken Dreams (haute couture collection, SS 2017) and most striking, the deconstruction of an art canvas as a dress for their Autumn Winter 2015 couture show that saw artworks exploding off the wall to form gowns.
Throughout their career, Viktor & Rolf have always broken rules and pushed the boundaries between art and fashion. Their designs contrast romanticism and rebellion, exuberance and control, classicism and conceptualism. Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years presents the most expansive collection of impressive works by this unconventional Dutch design duo. Their garments demonstrate the balancing acts that lie at the heart of all clothing with their unique ability to shape and control the structure of a garment to form extreme silhouettes. The separation between “clothes” and “fashion,” positions the latter as a form of art. With this ethos of “Wearable Art”, Viktor & Rolf garments that are more about fantasy than function.