Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf celebrate 20 years of innovative design in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne

Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are Holland’s self-confessed bad boys of fashion. The duo, who founded their Amsterdam-based fashion house Viktor&Rolf in 1993, are to be celebrated this winter in Melbourne, where the exhibition Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists is set to open on October 21, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

The exhibition will feature some of the most “show-stopping and innovative” works by the Dutch design duo, including over 35 haute couture pieces from the designers’ collections, presented alongside earlier designs from the Viktor&Rolf archive and international museum collections.
Also on display will be a selection of their work-in-progress Dolls: replicas of antique dolls dressed in the designers’ most iconic looks. The duo is known for experimental runway shows. For their 1999 Russian Doll runway show, the designers dressed model Maggie Rizer progressively in nine different layers. But the real show stopper was in 2003, with the One Woman Show fashion collection, inspired by actress Tilda Swinton. The actress herself appeared amidst a runway of models made up in her likeness.

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists has been developed in close collaboration with Horsting and Snoeren, and international guest curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the NGV’s blockbuster exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. “We are extremely excited to be working in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria on this exhibition and highlighting the craftsmanship involved in creating our wearable art,” the designers started. “It is an honour for us to bring our designs to the Southern Hemisphere.”

“Viktor&Rolf stretches the definition of both fashion and art,” said NGV director Tony Ellwood. “Their boundary-pushing designs challenge the way fashion is developed, presented and disseminated with masterful craftsmanship, intellectual rigour and an ironic sense of humour. This exhibition will be a rare opportunity to experience the unconventional creativity and technical brilliance of this innovative Dutch duo.”

“With exquisite craftsmanship and dreamy silhouettes, sometimes made from tinkling bells or red carpet, the Dutch fashion artists Viktor&Rolf have been creating wearable art for the past twenty years in a unique, singular style,” added Loriot.

The exhibition will also feature a children’s section, Viktor&Rolf for Kids, developed by the NGV in collaboration with Viktor&Rolf especially for children and families. The exhibition will “encourage children to explore their creativity through interactive multimedia activities and hands-on tasks”, including a particular focus on the olfactory experience, referencing Viktor&Rolf’s experience in scent design.

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists runs at NGV International in Melbourne from October 21 to February 26, 2017

By Daniel Scheffler

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Collectors Issue #38, pages 109-111.