Dutch mania! Last month I had the delightful experience of chatting with Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren of Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf. Within the same week, the Dallas Contemporary opened its exhibition of Walter Van Bierendonck—coined The Cultural Ambassador of the Flanders. Add the recent abdication of Queen Beatrix and the new King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander—one must take note.
I’ve always loved Viktor and Rolf, and now that I’ve met them, I’m in love, even more, both adorable in person and their designs are pure magnificence they surreptitiously imbued a stylish irony of surreal beauty through every collection.
With much to do—the Amsterdam fashion house, which launched in ‘93, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and last month they announced their return to the Paris haute couture schedule in July after a 13-year absence.
Sitting in the patio of Dallas boutique Forty Five Ten where the Viktor & Rolf collection is carried, we sipped morning coffee and chatted—the opening of the Dallas Art Fair was the night prior. During our chat, they shared their plans to launch a new fragrance in 2014, and that maybe we can convince them to debut a retrospective exhibition in the States.
Max: At what point did you decide to partner and create Viktor & Rolf?
RS: We started working together after school, we were in the same class, so we met when we were 18. We studied individually but we always liked each others work, and we became friends. So after school, we decided to give it a go and work together. We finished in ’92 and started in ’93, which is exactly 20 years this year.
Max: You must share similar aesthetic inspirations, and same design philosophies, what are those?
VH: I think more a shared ambition, to escape the situation we were in and to go to Paris, which was kind of unusual in our school.
RS: Exactly it was quite inward looking, the education, and also the thinking was not international, and we thought fashion is international and we want to go to Paris. Now it sounds very natural to do that, but at the time it was not really.
VH: We really liked each other’s work; we like to draw—so there was a connection.
Max: Fashion illustration has become a dying art form for designers, do you still like to sketch?
RS: Yes, exactly, but we are still sketching.
Max: I met Inez & Vinoodh last year, you’ve worked with them before, tell me about the project?
VH: Last week we were in New York to shoot with them our new perfume campaign—a new fragrance, coming out the beginning of next year. That is all we can say. But, we have known them for a long time, obviously, there is a connection because we are all Dutch. We live in the same visual.
Max: What is your favourite style from spring 2013?
RS: That’s a tough question, first let’s talk about the silhouette and the idea of the show. The idea was to work with a mirror, this is our 20th anniversary, and the idea of a mirror is related to self-reflection. When you celebrate an anniversary like this, it’s a moment to reflect and to think and to reflect on yourself. That’s how it started, but also a mirror is an object and we translated this into new embroidery with sequins. So we used the mirror as embroidery, we took elements from a glamorous Hollywood kind of wardrobe and we translated them into daywear. So, the references are very Hollywood but in a very wearable daytime way. The silhouette is long; everything in the show is long, long like a column, with an emphasis on the waist. Short upper body and very long legs.
VH: They took all the white silhouettes and placed them in the windows, have you seen the windows here? If we talk about our favourite for spring, I would say the white.
RS: There are two pieces in the window, where we used the tulle to create a new fabric, it’s a little bit like fur, we call it summer fur, its fuzzy but really light and airy. And in the white, it becomes really stark.
Max: H&M collaboration – any plans for more price conscious projects?
RS: Sometimes it’s nice to do those projects as a one-off, it’s fun to reach a bigger audience, exciting to work on a very specialised product, like luggage, but we don’t have anything in the pipeline at the moment. We really want to concentrate on our own collections and our own brand.
Max: You created The House of Viktor & Rolf at the Barbican in 2008 – any plans for another retrospective exhibition of your work? Would you consider coming back to Dallas to show?
RS: Before the Barbican, in Paris in the Louvre, but never in the States, and we would love to.
VH: But we are bringing the dolls to Toronto, which is starting in the middle of June.
RS: It’s a very democratic way to show fashion, and it’s also nice sometimes to look a little closer and take more time. You can communicate different messages in a museum.
Max: Dallas is very excited you’re visiting. Is this what you expected of Dallas?
RS: We watched the show Dallas years ago, so this what we remember.
VH: It’s funny because everyone told us how people dress up here, like crazy, and yesterday we went to the Dallas Art Fair opening. So we thought great, let’s get dressed up. So we went quite extreme, and we were the most over dressed of the evening, (laughing).
RS: It was quite funny.
VH: Everyone is really nice here.
That evening, Brian Bolke co-founder of Forty Five Ten, and Howard and Cindy Rachofsky hosted a private party at The Rachofsky House to welcome them to Dallas. Fun!