Viktor & Rolf explores the world’s obsession with royalty

By Olga_Gafurova Thursday, 17 February 2022 3:42 PM

Viktor & Rolf explores the world’s obsession with royalty

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As reticent as Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are, they indubitably know something that the rest of us don’t or they frame the expected in ways that make us reconsider it. That is certainly the case with their latest collection, which at first glance, might seem to tread familiar ground, with coat shapes resembling those from their Russian doll collection for fall 1999, and slogan sashes from spring 2019. The pair carried over their interest in jeweled embellishments here, though in different dimensions and styles; and in keeping with their dedication to reducing waste, many of the pieces are patchworked – as are the concepts behind the garments. As Snoeren put it, “there’s all kinds of elements from all different worlds.”

The first theme that comes across is a royal one, and, with continuing buzz around The Crown and the Oprah interview, it’s quite topical. What the designers couldn’t have known is that Young Royals mania would start to heat up at almost the exact time they presented their collection. Many tropes are referenced in the lineup, ranging from fairy tales to cartoons. There are medieval-style brocades and an “ermine” cape. A raffia “fur” is a fantastic take on high/low. Tiaras and crowns of plastic are a clue that everything is not what it seems, which is confirmed, without subtlety, with the queen-themed sashes. “We wanted everything to be bigger than life,” noted Horsting. “It’s like a play on queens or royals. We wanted to be uplifting and joyful and – fun is not the right word – but colorful, sparkling, positive. You are your own creation.”

At the same time that the designers were celebrating self-actualization, they were also thinking about structures and hierarchies, likening those of royals to the fashion system with its ranked seating charts. However quickly those seat assignments change as new courtiers are chosen and dismissed, the system pushes forward. “The show must go, always go on,” remarked Snorern.

And so he brought us to the heart of what this collection explored, which is the question of our digital age: What is real? Image can align with the true self – or not, as when a person, like a royal or a celebrity, has a public persona. With deep fakes entering the picture, concepts of truth will only be more complicated.