Viktor & Rolf Spring 2021 Couture

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Fashion is filled with a sense of spring awakening. It seems everyone wants to spread their wings and mix and mingle. Even self-proclaimed introverts Viktor Hortsing and Rolf Snoeren are in the mood to party. They describe their latest collection as a “couture rave.”

At the same time that this lineup projects positive forward energy, it rejects negative thinking, and challenges ideas of what couture can be. Their last collection, notes Snoeren, was a reaction to the global health crisis. “For this season, we were in the mood for something obviously opposite, something that’s... basically an escape into a party atmosphere. “We noticed we were doom scrolling,” adds Horsting, “and we felt we needed, as creators, to offer something lighthearted and something with a lot of energy and power.”

The collection video was shot in a cold war munitions factory which has been converted into a contemporary art space. Much to Hortsing’s delight, it retains the appearance of “a derelict factory”—with the exception of the golden installation made of melted ammunition in the background, a transformation that is in line with the designers’ penchant for sartorial alchemy.

Known for their conceptualism, the Dutch duo took a more instinctual approach this season, making youth and upcycling their main themes. Though the silhouettes were repetitive—bra top and formal skirt and bra top and panty—the pieces themselves were diverse. Taking an “anything goes” approach they used elements of their own archive, bits of jewelry, sweatshirts, and mere scraps of fabric to create new looks.

“For us it created a tension of things that just don’t belong together,” notes Snoeren. “It was very conscious to put something almost crafty, handmade, almost do-it-yourself in spirit, opposite a very refined couture technique,” he continues. Although couture is made by hand, it has rarely been associated with extreme youth, nor a “made it myself” vibe. Mainly composed of separates, this collection has a bit of a circus air about it, as well as a touch of teenage bedroom-style eclecticism, as such that it pushes against traditional ideas of what couture can, or should, be.

Grand concepts aside, the possibilities suggested by a tiered, open-front, apron-like skirt that might be worn over lingerie as shown, or alternatively on top of a maillot or pants, was intriguing. A beautiful, bow-festooned, harlequin cape that acted a bit like the collection’s big top and had continuity with collections past, was really something to rave about.

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