Early in their fashion career, Dutch design wizards Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren staged a strike in lieu of presenting a collection. This same rebellious streak was clear this season as the duo painted the word “No” on models’ faces and used it to protrude from jackets and gowns. They dubbed it a “glamorous protest” and gave voice to a general malaise with fashion’s breakneck pace of collections, shows and trends. “The negative feelings were somehow linked to the pressure we feel of always having to perform not only artistically, but commercially, as well,” the designers-cum-philosophers mused in an e-mail. “Creativity is your only weapon, and trying to translate the negative feelings into something beautiful-positive is our way of dealing with [it]. We love fashion more than anything in the world, and therefore felt the need to translate this feeling of resistance into clothes in a literal, but hopefully poetic, way.”

Their protest against the sewing machine led them to staple clothes together, becoming “a new kind of embroidery,” they said. A starting point for their collection was the song “No,” by Yoko Ono, who once made an antifashion statement herself during a performance during which she invited members of the audience to cut off a piece of her clothes until she was bare. Viktor & Rolf can relate: “This kind of extreme message is something we admire.”

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