The exhibition ‘Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years’, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Amsterdam-based high fashion house Viktor&Rolf, shows some of the most impressive and innovative works by this Dutch design duo at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. For the past 25 years the symbiotic collaboration between Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren has led to works of uncompromising beauty and extraordinary collections. It is impossible to trace the results of their collaboration back to individual contributions. In their own words: “We often play with the idea of two people being one, or both of us being of one mind, and we play with our imageto express that.”
The exhibition ‘Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years’shows Viktor&Rolf’s radical conception of ‘wearable art’ and explores the elements that make their designs unique in the contemporary fashion world. Throughout their illustrious career, Viktor&Rolf have carved a contradictory identity that pushes the boundaries betweenart and fashion, often contrasting romance and rebellion, exuberance and control, classicism and conceptualism. Around sixty works from Viktor&Rolf’s haute couture collections give an insight into their unconventional and conceptual approach, also showing that they have never shied away from criticising the fashion industry (of which they are a part themselves). With regard to form and materials – the interplay of lines, volumes, bows, collars, ruffles etcetera – their creations are stunningly beautiful and technically perfect. Their fashion shows are like powerfully eloquent ‘performances’. The 1999 Russian Doll show, for which Viktor&Rolf draped ninelayers of clothing around a single woman, top model Maggie Rizer, meant their international breakthrough. Subsequently many other high-profile haute couture shows followed. Creations from collections such as ‘Bedtime Story’(2005), ‘The Fashion Show’(2007), ‘NO’(2008), ‘Cutting Edge Couture’(2010), ‘Red Carpet Dressing’(2014), ‘Wearable Art’(2015) and ‘Van Gogh Girls’(2015) can be seen in the exhibition, as well as pieces that have never been shown before from their newest collections, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’(2017), ‘Action Dolls’(2017/18) and ‘Surreal Satin’(2018).
The exhibition includes 25 handmade examples from the ‘Dolls’ series which consists of replicas of antique dolls dressed in some of the fashion artists’ most iconic designs. Each porcelain doll is dressed in an haute couture creation that was exactlyscaled-down on the basis of the original patterns, a meticulous and extremely labour-intensive process. Even the fabrics have been woven to scale, and the miniature model’s hair and makeup are exact copies of the runway styles.
One of the special loans is the wedding gown that Viktor&Rolfdesigned in 2004 for Princess Mabel van Oranje-Nassauon the occasion of her marriage to Prince Friso. It can be admired alongside its miniature ‘Doll’ version, a special loan from ING Art Management. Other remarkable works include the garmentViktor&Rolfdesigned for Madonna, to be worn during her 2016 benefit concert at Miami Art Basel, and the theatrical costumes for the Dutch National Ballet production of ‘Dutch Doubles’ (2014).
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (both born in 1969) graduated in 1992 from ArtEz Institute in Arnhem (The Netherlands). In 1993 they won the first three prizes of the most important fashion competition in the world: Le Salon Européen des Jeunes Stylistes in Hyères (France). From 1994, they started to present their haute couture collections asinstallations, mainly in art galleries, until 1998 when they presented their first haute couture collection. In 2000, they launched their ready-to-wear line for women, until 2013, to focus onlyon haute couturesince then. Their work is included in numerous Dutch and international museum collections and is worn by famous artists such as Tilda Swinton, Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright. In 2016-17, the exhibition titled ‘Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists’was presented at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne followed in 2018 by its adaptation to celebrate the duo's 25th anniversary exhibition at Kunsthal Rotterdam.