By  on February 27, 2007

Welcome to Paris! The land where anything is possible in matters of la mode, including zapping the fashion-jaded out of their ho-hum doldrums. Paris — where creativity flourishes, where every girl can be her own fashion show, where the shirtdress and a black bustier frock are anything but basic, where robotic skirts pirouette around static bodies, where blatant pilfering results not in shameful knockoffs, but in artistic manifestos. Where all of that can percolate and bubble over in a mere two collections.

For fall, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, the dynamic duo of high-concept shows, strove to flaunt the notion of distinction. “We wanted this to be about our essence, our individuality as designers," said Snoeren before their Viktor & Rolf show. And how better to telegraph that than in the way their work allows women to celebrate their own individuality? Thus, each girl was presented as her own mini, self-sufficient fashion show, complete with lighting rig (harnessed ingeniously without adding a tad of girth to the torso) and her very own music via mini speakers.

What did this wacky schtick have to do with the clothes? Showmen that they are, the designers used the aluminum tubing as display mechanisms for clothes of outsized proportions, from the languid train of a dress to an overextended collar on a camel coat. Then there was a big dirndl skirt decorated with stereo speakers. But the real fascination with these designers comes from their ability to show real, even low-key clothes within an outrageous context. And so they did: smart suits, cropped pants with little jackets or sweaters, lovely shirtdresses, including one embroidered in crewel-worked flowers, its voluminous skirt attached to the tubing like a giant fan.

Often folded details distinguished the clothes in shoulder work on dresses and sweaters, as well as in a skirt's box pattern, created by creases in the fabric. These were inspired by Dutch folkloric fare. "Traditionally, people didn't want to cut the fabric," Snoeren said. "They were too frugal — cheap, maybe." That's one trait from their heritage that the designers have not adopted, as is obvious in their tony designs and in the wealth of ideas with which they delight season after season.

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