Suzy Menkes

#SuzyCouture: Viktor & Rolf – The First 25 Years

The duo celebrate their anniversary, as a wildly popular exhibition of their work shows in Rotterdam
The astounding success of the Viktor & Rolf exhibition at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam proves that the appetite for fashion displays remains undimmed. Especially when there is a powerful curator behind it – in this case, Thierry-Maxime Loriot.
Loriot was the curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts who put Jean Paul Gaultier’s “From Sidewalk to Catwalk” on display in 2011 – and saw the show tour the globe.
“Viktor & Rolf are unique, in that they have always been contemporary artists – more than just ‘designers’,” Loriot says. Their presentations have produced everything from cowbells tinkling in the dark to fashion that folds up in a photo frame.
But while the duo’s show during Paris Haute Couture week might have been expected to be a spectacular celebration of 25 years in fashion, it was in fact surprisingly low key.
A chameleon-ruffled suit, backstage at Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2018.
There were no oversize dolls on the stage, nor anything like “The Great Peel Off”, when a model removed one piece of clothing at a time like layers of an onion.
Instead there was white for every outfit, and no nostalgia for fashion past but rather straightforward clothes (by the duo’s standards).
“Somehow a few things have come together by coincidence – the exhibition, the book (Viktor & Rolf: Cover Cover by Irma Boom, Phaidon, £150) – so we decided to do everything in white with crystals. White is a bit like looking towards the future, like a clean slate,” Viktor explained.
The idea was surely to show not only striking pieces, but also proof that not everything with the Viktor & Rolf name has to be weird.
When the ruffle is the dress, backstage at Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2018.
By the end, with lights twinkling behind them, the models looked like they were all just having fun. Others who want a deeper message can take themselves off to Rotterdam.