The line between fashion and art has never been this blurry. For their fall couture show, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren proposed dresses that turned into paintings or sculpture during a fashion performance at the Palais de Tokyo.
The show started with a model wearing white canvas draped elaborately around her body, still attached to its frame, as if someone had smashed it over her head. Similarly sculpted skirts, coats and dresses followed, each boasting a unique construction that would gradually become more colorful and more complex in form.
The collection had an existential question at its core. “We are fashion artists. But what does this mean, we asked ourselves. What do we want to do?” Snoeren mused during a preview, adding that every item could be displayed as artwork.
The duo opted for a combination of classic paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and action painting technique, “so that you have the aggression and the rawness of the action painting and the classicism and precision of Golden Age,” Horsting explained, drawing attention to the fact that all the canvas was essentially fabric, embroidered with yarns and appliqués that looked like paint splatter, or jacquard prints.
The designers took to the stage to liberate models from their canvas robes, subsequently hanging them on the wall. One outfit unfolded into a series of three paintings with canvas spilling out from the gilded frames, while others revealed themselves to be proper wall sculptures. Horsting divulged that this hadn’t been easy. “It took some trial and error,” he said with a smile.
One of the arty dresses — or dressy artworks, depending on your point of view — was pre-sold before it made its public debut on the runway.
Art dealers were among front-row guests. “They sent me an e-mail showing what they are doing today, so this is something I would not like to miss,” said Paris-based gallery owner Thaddaeus Ropac, adding: “Art and fashion is always a flirtation. It’s interesting if it can be successfully done. It’s not always the case. It’s been tried many times, and we haven’t seen so many really successful results.”
As surrealist as the skirts, coats and dresses looked, you could still imagine them on Lady Gaga, posing on the red carpet or stepping into the spotlight onstage.