It's 3:30 in the morning as I type this. I find I have my best creative bouts in the wee hours of the night, but that might be my sleep-deprived brain talking tall tales. Regardless, I've decided to write a bit of a love story tonight. No, I haven't met anyone. In fact, this love affair's been around for awhile. Since 2006 ... maybe 2005 ... memory fails me on these things. This love comes to mind often. When I'm talking with other fashionable folks, and they ask, "what designers are your favourite?" this love of mine just bubbles up and spills over. And when I'm alone too, on nights like this one, I lie awake and think of this love, and it fills me with hopeless insomnia.
Yes, I'm in love with Viktor & Rolf. You're probably thinking this sounds awfully frivolous, seeing as how most humans fall in love with other humans. But you need only go as far as reading the name of this blog, an Aesthetic Feast, to know I'm an aesthetics-minded girl (not "shallow", as some may think).
My first encounter with Viktor & Rolf, the clothing line created by Dutch fellows Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, was love at first sight. But I can't really pinpoint when that first time was. I'm thinking it was their Fall 2005 collection, maybe I'd spotted it in a magazine. Tori Amos sat in front of a piano on the runway, in a fuchsia pajama set, and played as the models walked, decked out in "sleepwear". That is, they had pillows behind their heads, their crimped hair splayed out over the cotton, or their dresses were made to look like embroidered duvets. "Dreamy" is an appropriate word to describe it. With that, they captured my attention.
Soon followed their beautifully feminine collaboration with H&M, which of course sold out instantly and I never had a chance with it. Love can be so cruel sometimes.
I was lovestruck at this point and followed them from collection to collection. My fate was sealed with Spring 2007; the crystal leggings and the faceted shoes haunted me in my sleep. They still do. Where can one even get a pair of those leggings? I need them. Am I going to have to make a pair? I think so. Those crystal platforms, like walking on chandeliers, were so completely glamorous. Can you think of anything more decadent than covering your flesh with diamonds? That's the feel this collection had.
Shooting stars covering nude and black tuxedos, beaded floor-length column gowns that felt so very 1930's Silver Screen. As with all of their collections, there was that hint of androgyny. One ensemble you could easily see on Fred Astaire, the next dress would look perfect on Ginger Rogers. And there was always an element of theatricality. Ballroom dancers swayed while Rufus Wainwright performed. Again, "dreamy". Crystal collars, chandelier shoes. The fragility of faceted glass with the masculinity of a bowtie. Fred and Ginger rolled into one.
Before that, there was Fall 2006. "Dramatic" to say the least. Braided hair masks, mimicking the fishnet print of the models' stockings, covered their faces. But the masquerade didn't detract at all from the clothing. Feeling very Dior "New Look" --cinched waists and full skirts, meets prima ballerina-- my heart was won. The gray wool skirt suits, the ruffled satin blouses. They were so very late 1950s, prim and proper, yet their was something darker about it. Maybe it was the masks, but this was a sinister kind of ladylike, a woman who might carry arsenic in her patent leather pocketbook.
Oh, Spring 2008. Any shred of darkness from Fall 2006 was washed away by you. Pristine white minidresses, blushing pink cheeks and wavy hair. It vaguely reminded me of the porcelain clown dolls I used to collect when I was little, their ruffled Pierrot collars and harlequin prints (reflected in the printed heels of the shoes this time). This was a very sweet, nostalgic collection. The models even wrote violins around their necks, perhaps for playing love songs. Be still my heart.
These are just a few memories though, a couple of instances when I absolutely knew I was in love with Viktor and Rolf. The list could go on and on as I click through the backlogs at style.com. V&R are something special. Not many people in the creative world can balance versatility with consistency, and yet they do it so well. There is a specific aesthetic with Viktor and Rolf, and yet they always bring out something new.
As someone who tries to work creatively, that is truly an inspiration.
And they aren't just a fashion label, merely out there to clothe the wealthy masses. Viktor and Rolf are storytellers. You might not look at the show and immediately think "oh, I'd wear that out on the street," but you can look at it and get an idea. An inkling of inspiration comes into your head that makes you get excited to get dressed. To me, that's what fashion is about. It's for filling your head with dreams, making you believe that you're the star of your own fairytale, your own glamorous Hollywood musical.
It's 4 a.m. now, and I think it's time I wrap this up. I hope you enjoyed this love story, that it inspires you in some way. I'm off to sleep, and maybe (quite likely), dream.
[ photos from style.com ]