“The quintessential summer look: a floral dress, a straw hat and flip-flops,” Rolf Snoeren said, enumerating the three ingredients for the Viktor & Rolf spring couture show. “And then the outfits become more elaborate and more and more surreal,” piped in Viktor Horsting, showing off smocked baby-doll dresses in which ruffled sleeves and skirts exploded into ever more extreme, jutting volumes.
Straw hats as broad as beach umbrellas, reinforced with carbon fibers, served as hoists for floral embroideries that flew off the dresses, recalling a 2007 V&R ready-to-wear show in which clothes were pinned across heavy metal rigs the models shouldered.
Snoeren said he and Horsting wanted to show something that “made prints come alive,” and to experiment with “how far we could take it in terms of volume.”
Vincent van Gogh’s exuberant countryside paintings also fed the theme. The Dutch duo confessed their seamstresses were puzzled when initially shown the drawings depicting flowers first taking on color, and then morphing into 2-D and 3-D representations. The concept was similar to Chanel’s motorized gray flowers that whirred to reveal vibrant petals, and it should have also been an uplifting display to fan V&R’s hit L’Oréal fragrance franchise, Flowerbomb.
Instead gloomy music — the soundtrack from “Rosemary’s Baby” — accompanied slow-moving models with joyless expressions. Here was a one-note show that would have benefited from a performance element, as the designers have done effectively since returning to couture in 2013.
Nevertheless, the show should give an image boost to Vlisco, which supplied all the fabrics. The famous maker of batik prints known as “Dutch wax” has taken a knock in the wake of the Ebola outbreak that has ravaged West Africa, one of its key markets.
It was certainly a treat to watch the giant flower prints — first traced in indigo, the first bath fabrics take in Vlisco’s sprawling plant in Helmond — gradually blush with color, as Snoeren said, “like filling in a coloring book.”
At the show, the designers revealed that art collector Han Nefkens acquired three pieces of the collection to donate to Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen as part of Nefkens’ “Fashion on the Edge” project.