Clash and Crash

One of the most discordant collections of the couture season is also strangely cohesive and one of the most entrancing



For couture, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are not exactly press darlings the way Karl Lagerfeld is at Chanel—always feted. The duo tends to march to their own off-beat hemiolas, creating clothes that sometimes go against the emancipation of women’s wear today, spurring a discourse on fashion and feminism. Yet, they have so much up their bespoke sleeves that, more often than not, their collections encourage hours of musing.

Good artists tend to similarly provoke. Viktor and Rolf do not just produce a couture collection that inspires admiration, but awe as well. They have a flair for compositional contrasts that get the mulling over into overdrive. What’s this? Where did it come from? Where does it take the wearer from here?


The spring collection showed the disparate approach seen in such a pronounced way that the duo took last fall. With found vintage cocktail wear, they’ve deconstructed the old to reconstruct anew—with a push-pull dynamic that recalls the original Maison Margiela Artisanal collection, but with all the irreverence so characteristic of Viktor and Rolf, and with more of their kooky romanticism. Scarlet O’Hara would have appreciated this.

One rarely gets to see tiered ruffles treated this way: so sweet, with ombré effect, and strangely alluring even when ruffles may border on the over-the-top. These ruffles are applied so that the standard silhouettes are broken, but only gently. The only other label that we can think of that dared to lop and slash and send layers of ruffles askew is Comme des Garçons. But Victor and Rolf’s treatment is not so dark, and is more in keeping with 19th-century prettiness than 21st-century obsession with shattering conventional attractiveness.


Dubbed Boulevard of Broken Dreams (which we took to mean fragmented rather than smashed), the collection came together with amazing unity. We like the unexpected placement of those repurposed pieces from found clothes. Since there probably isn’t more than one of those clothes, whoever orders a dress isn’t going to get one looking exactly like what was shown on the catwalk. In fact, we think customers are going to get quite a different garment, which would play up the uniqueness of the designs. This seems to be taking customisation to an uncommon level.

Viktor and Rolf’s couture collections are not always approachable. Neither are the gowns a red carpet habitué. But the partners have always maintained their atelier as “a laboratory of ideas”, the way a couture house was once touted to be. If high fashion needs to be propelled into the next century, it needs creativity and derring-do to keep the engines well oiled. Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren seem committed to see to that.

Photos: Alessandro Garofalo/



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