Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists – Exhibition at the NGV

printonprint_Russian-Doll-Haute-Couture-Collection-1999-2000-Viktor-and-Rolf-Fashion-Artists-NGVIn February I achieved one of my life goals: to see haute couture garments in real life/physically in front of me.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) held a unique fashion art exhibition showing the work of Viktor & Rolf from October 2016 to February 2017. The exhibit, entitled Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists, was curated by guest curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot working with Miranda Wallace from the NGV.

Viktor Horsting and Rolf Shoeren make up the artistic Amsterdam based fashion house Viktor & Rolf. Their creations have always been on the edge between fashion and art, and this exhibition really explored this aspect of Viktor & Rolf’s designs. The narrative of the exhibit charted the life of the fashion house, methodically documenting the milestones, setbacks and successes, and grand achievements within the 20-or-so years of the brand.

The entrance into the exhibition was mysterious and alluring. The dark and somber room was such a contrast from the bright bustling circulation area of the gallery. This ambience set the tone for the exhibition, leading visitors through the showcase emotion by emotion. As I moved through the exhibit, I was very aware of the sense of place and time accompanying the information and displays. Each item belonged to a point in the story of Viktor & Rolf, and as I absorbed the information around me, I realized that what I knew about the brand barely scratched the surface of the story. 

The garments really ought to be referred to as art. I was truly awestruck at the level of detail and superior craftsmanship (predominantly made by hand) of the pieces. The precision of construction made it look as though the pieces were sculpted rather than stitched together. I studied each piece looking for misplaced stitches or loose threads, signs of wear or evidence of imperfection, but every single item was flawless.

V&R gold logo at their headquarters in amsterdam
V&R Logo at the Viktor and Rolf headquarters in Amsterdam. Source: Vogue Australia.

I took my time to work through the exhibition and take in as much as I could. I read every plaque, experienced every work of art and watched every runway show on display. There was a corridor between two adjoining rooms of the gallery lined with tv screens that showed every runway show Viktor & Rolf had presented. This, for me, was a connect-the-dots moment – I was able to string together the parts of the fashion story I had learned into a chronological time line. It was so interesting to see the development and growth that Viktor & Rolf have achieved in a relatively short time.

The concepts remain provoking and controversial and I think that there is now a prevailing sense of reverence assigned to Viktor & Rolf by both the fashion and art community in honour of their creativity and influence. I left the exhibition feeling inspired by what I had just experienced and felt so privileged that I was able to realise my childhood dream of seeing real couture garments in such close proximity.

The entire exhibition was incredible. Here I have chosen to share a few special moments from my experience.

Video by NGV showing the making of Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 

Bibliography:

  • Loriot, Thierry-Maxime ed. Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists. Melbourne, Victoria: Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, 2016.

Images:

Works in order of appearance:

  • Feature image: brown hessian lineup: Viktor & Rolf, Russian Doll haute couture collection, autumn-winter 1999-2000.
  • Logo: Viktor & Rolf logo at their Amsterdam based headquarters, sourced from Vogue Australia, Inside the 17th Century headquarters of haute couture house Viktor & Rolf. http://www.vogue.com.au/vogue+living/interiors/galleries/inside+the+17th+century+headquarters+of+haute+couture+house+viktor+rolf,37969
  • Brown hessian: Viktor & Rolf, (Russian Doll) Second Preparation 1999 Russian Doll haute couture collection, autumn-winter 1999-2000, jute, cotton (lace), crystals, (sequins).
  • Trio of white: Viktor & Rolf, Performance of Sculptures haute couture collection, spring-summer 2016. Polyester, plastic, nylon, rubber.
  • NO doll: NO ready-to-wear collection, autumn winter 2008-09. Magdalena doll 2008. Porcelain (bisque), papier-mâché, hair, wool, gilt brass, polyester boots.
  • Ruffle/pleated dress detail: Viktor & Rolf, Shalom ready-to-wear collection, spring-summer 2009.
  • Tulle Detail: Viktor & Rolf, Magdalena 2010 Cutting Edge Couture ready-to-wear collection, spring-summer 2010.
  • Straw hat and colourful dress: Viktor & Rolf, Van Gogh Girls haute couture collection, spring-summer 2015.
  • Black dress with light fixture: Viktor & Rolf, The Fashion Show ready-to-wear collection, autumn-winter 2007-08. Synthetic silk, cotton, aluminium, glass painted wood, other materials.
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2 thoughts on “Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists – Exhibition at the NGV

  1. That is interesting. I went to NGV too over the weekend and started searching for blogs on it. Apparently it has lots of interesting shows! The Van Gogh one on at the moment is also good and it’s on my blog too:)

    Like

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