Viktor & Rolf Fall 2015 Couture

Some may just know Viktor and Rolf from their extremely successful perfume, Flowerbomb. But the Dutch duo, who’s full names are Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, is also known for their artistic take on fashion. In 2015 they debuted their last ready-to-wear collection, deciding to end that part of their business to focus more on haute couture. That same year they took their fall couture collection to the next level truly proving to be Fashion Artists (as they rightfully call themselves).

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The first look from Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show 

The collection was named Wearable Art and was just that, wooden frames included. It was presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and during the show models came onto the runway wearing tunics with what looked like bent canvases over them. These “canvases” were made of linen bonded to white crepe (no Horsting and Snoeren didn’t take the collection a step further by incorporating culinary aspects, I mean the fabric when I say crepe). The first looks had all white “canvases” and it was not until the eighth look that colors were used. Laser-cut jacquard with embroidery and appliqués adorned pieces and some had more of paintings on them than others. However, Snoeren said that every item could be displayed as art. One painting that was used was The Threatened Swan, circa 1650 by Jan Asselijn.

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The eighth look from Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show (L) The look inspired by The Threatened Swan, circa 1650 by Jan Asselijn (R)

The art that was on the “canvases” was a combination of classic paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and action painting. This was “so that you have the aggression and the rawness of the action painting and the classicism and precision of Golden Age,” Horsting said. Some of the designs incorporated Baroque or Rococo paintings from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the last look in the show had the most complete painting. It was a Dutch still life.

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The last look of Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show (L) A close up of the last look of Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show (R) 

Five of the looks in the collection were put on more of a display when Horsting and Snoeren hung parts of them on the back wall.

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Pieces from the collection hung on the wall during Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show 

As the second look was going down the runway the designers made their way onto the stage and had the model stop next to them. They took off the outer layer of what she was wearing and it became the first piece go on the wall. As the show went on four other models stopped at Horsting and Snoeren and had their “canvases” removed and hung up as well.

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Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren taking a piece off of a model (L) The piece being hung (R) 

People in the audience were then able to look at the pieces as true artwork hanging on a wall. It makes sense that there were art dealers seated in the front row.

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Five pieces displayed on the wall at the end of Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show

One piece from the collection was sold before the show even began and with the help of Han Nefkens it was not the only one to sell. Nefkens is an art collector who is known for purchasing and commissioning work in order to loan or donate it to museums. As of 2016 he solely focuses on video art and has the Han Nefkens Foundation, which supports emerging international artists. Before making the switch to just video art, Nefkens took a liking to the collection and made a purchase which he donated to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

It was not the first time Viktor and Rolf pieces have been in a museum. The brand has had designs showcased around the world including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

It’s fitting that Horsting and Snoeren designs end up in museums. When Viktor and Rolf was founded, what they created was more geared toward art. Horsting said, “It’s true that for the first five years we were more presenting ourselves in an art-related context than in a fashion context. Fashion is a very strictly regulated environment and we had no clue how to function in the fashion world, so it took some time before we were prepared to work in fashion.”

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Backstage at Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 couture show

Along with designing artistic clothing collections, the duo did things like create a limited edition perfume that was kept in bottles that didn’t open. Sounds strange? Well it sold very well and this was in 1996 just three years after Viktor and Rolf was started.

The fashion house came to be after Horsting and Snoeren met at the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in The Netherlands and moved to Paris. Their first collection won the grand prize at the Salon Européen des Jeunes Stylists and they haven’t looked back since.

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Viktor Horsting (left) and Rolf Snoeren watching a rehearsal for their 25th anniversary show in 2018 

Viktor Horsting (left) and Rolf Snoeren backstage at their 25th anniversary show, which was at Le Trianon Theater in Paris