paris fashion week: viktor & rolf

(images via vogue)

oh, my! so while i do believe that, whatever criticism might their way come, i’ve been pretty consistently pleased with whatever viktor & rolf have had to offer, both during the life of opt (see a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013) and well before it (i think i was first turned with their amazing a/w 2004 antler-ed show). and while i do like their more sartorially adventurous (shall we say?) work, i also know that the designers are incredible tailors (one of my teachers once said that to be a successful conceptual/avant garde-style designer, one must first become an exceptional tailor), and thus, i like it when they play up that fact with a quieter, more construction-based collection.

anyway, as you can see, this was the realm we caught them in for their a/w 2013 paris fashion week exhibition, and as the washington post reported, “(f)ollowing the trend to de-clutter the catwalk…Viktor & Rolf replaced their normally inventive art-infused style…with simpler silhouettes and a muted palette of black and white. ‘It’s a feeling of wanting to be real, a wardrobe for women to wear,’ said Horsting backstage. ‘And slightly rebellious.’ ‘Slightly’ was the key word here. There were some subtle nods to rebellion, like dropped waist lines and short flared minis (a clever play on peplums.)…A shorter silhouette with short heels on boots, which Horsting said put women ‘closer to earth,’ worked nicely alongside the menswear tuxedoes.”

“This was a strong collection for Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren,” announced style. “Though short on fireworks, the clothes on the runway today were rather eloquent, with a passage of looks with trompe l’oeil hand embroidery standing out as particularly expressive. It was tempting to read this collection as a conversation some young woman might be having with herself as she tries, day by day and moment by moment, to decide what kind of person she is. Is she a bouncy individual who wears a fitted sportif sweater and short, godet-pleated, quilted black leather skirt? Or is she sober and serious and even a little bit militant, outfitted in a trim, double-breasted black wool jumpsuit? Perhaps she’s just seething with punkish rage, and wants to rip her clothes apart, as Horsting and Snoeren’s cool, fraylike embroideries suggested.”

and according to elle, “‘(w)e are always interested in pursuing a play of opposites,’ explained the designers, ‘so this season we had the rebel who wants some action and the other girl wanted to be pretty.’ The ‘other girl’ came first: preppy in tennis jumpers and mini skirts so short they were barely more than a frill at the bottom of a long line top. The bow – that stalwart of girly girl wardrobes the world over – featured strongly: here as a sleeve in a one-shouldered top, there puffed up in a skater skirt. They were voluminous and ubiquitous.  The rebel without a cause meanwhile wore skinny suits that were ripped and torn, tuxedo shirts with holes at the elbows and on the back, and jackets that looked as though she’d had a fight with a barbed wire fence.”

then, there was the nyt‘s eric wilson, declaring that the collection “was minimal on tricks, and also minimal on lengths,” before reporting that “(t)he designers’ dresses this season, all black and white, were quite short, including several black tricotine or silk ones with bows and white cotton shirt dresses designed to look like they had been shredded. The disheveled look of frays and rips, like the worn-out knees of an old pair of blue jeans, was a theme for the designers this season. But rather than loose threads, the numerous holes on slim pants and jackets were made with crystal chains and feathers, sort of a luxury version of the street look, if you will.”

elsewhere, we heard from vogue that “‘(i)t’s slightly rebellious, slightly sophisticated,’ they said. Of course they didn’t overhaul their signature ruffles and bows altogether – they still spilt out at necks to construct the shape of a shirt or a blouse beneath or twisted into a sleeve or hip accent. But they reined it in for less-is-more appeal and kept it modern in a tight monochrome palette. The opening looks, slick tailoring in black and little miniskirts and hip-slung belts, were positively minimal for this pair. They then played with embroidery to ‘rip’ jeans and jackets, tulle-edged slashes – the most elegant rips you’ve ever seen. This was a case in point for that mix of the rebellious with the sophisticated – as were bows rendered in leather on jackets and skater skirts.”

“In a welcome move, the designers softened some of their verging-on-silly proclivities,” explained wwd. “Sticking to a black-and-white palette, they kept silhouettes ultrashort with pleated minidresses and quilted ruffle microskirts. Horsting and Snoeren occasionally injected a subtle Sixties London vibe — a black sleeveless minidress and double-breasted, cap-sleeved jumpsuit had a faint Mary Quant quality. Fanciful touches came elsewhere via overstated bows, from a giant one on the neckline of a white shirt to another on the shoulder of a gown. The designers also embroidered and embellished some of the clothes into a ripped trompe l’oeil effect. At times it looked strange, but added a new dimension.”

and grazia chimed in that “(t)he femininity of the bow motif was well reflected elsewhere with drop waist flippy minis and Belle De Jour-esque block heels in patent leather. Mackintosh detailing was peppered across low-waisted all-in-ones and in thin buckled straps above the elbow cinching long bell sleeves. There were also some nifty knits featuring monochrome laurels teamed with quilted, flirty skater skirts and this season’s one shoulder trend gained yet another proponent. But it wasn’t all sweetness. Bringing a destructive impulse to their monochrome palette, matching top and jean ensembles were slashed with holes, each of which were covered with fine, gauzy chiffon to reveal the skin below. The holes were then further repaired with chains of barrel beaded cross-hatching stitched across the voids.”

finally, though, it was suzy menkes of the iht, who stated that “the clothes were pretty, smaller sized and less overtly experimental as in recent collections from Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren. With hemlines on kicky skirts and brief dresses short and sweet, the design duo placed their bold gestures on the upper part of the body with the giant bows at one shoulder or at the collarbone. The concept of built-in decoration, which is becoming quite a theme this Paris season, was handled by Viktor & Rolf as burned-out patches where the palest pink feathers wafted like broken threads. Like the rest of the collection, the effect was pretty, rather than menacing, making this an approachable and appealing collection where the former giant gestures had been cut down, prettily, to size.”

(check out the full fashion show video here)

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