10 Questions with Viktor&Rolf

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Ahead of their exclusive Haute Couture show and panel talk at B&&B, we spoke with the iconic designers to boldly explore the current state of fashion

They rebel, they break rules, they send coats down the runway with the word ‘No’ popping out of them as protest. Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren – aka Viktor&Rolf – are fashion’s most bizarre and brilliant design duo. Since 1993, the pair have worked together on the fashion house best known for its extraordinary and conceptual designs. Whether it’s a tulle ball gown chainsawed in half, or paintings with their frames transformed into dresses (quite literally, ‘wearable art’), Viktor&Rolf’s designs are anything but safe.

At this year’s Bread & Butter, they unveiled their highly anticipated AW17 Haute Couture collection. Given their history of mind-blowing fashion shows, it’s no surprise it was elaborate, provocative and theatrical. Not only that, the eccentric designers took part in an exclusive panel discussion at B&&B.

Ahead of the festival, we chatted with the duo about their magical universe.

What was the first piece of clothing each of you saw that made you want to become a designer?

As teenagers in the eighties, we were both mesmerised by perfume ads. This was our portal into a world of glamour. That, and “Neues vom Kleidermarkt”, the only TV programme showing Paris catwalk shows at that time. A mere twice a year…This is before the internet kids.

Neither of you are strangers to rebelling against systems. What has given you the courage to consistently go against the grain?

We are quite analytical and often take fashion itself as a source of inspiration. Also, we take our personal emotions as the basis of our work. We prefer to acknowledge negative feelings and to process them in our work, than deny them.

Your fashion shows are always elaborate, conceptual and theatrical. What can we expect from your AW17 Haute Couture presentation at Bread & Butter?

It will be a mix of our last three haute couture shows that were all based on upcycling. The venue offers lots of spectacular technical possibilities, but we want to keep it very simple, focusing on the clothes and the intimacy and emotion of the live event.

Everything is a source of inspiration! For instance, once we were a bit fed up with having to design a new collection. So we used the word ‘No’ as a basis for everything. Once we got that out of our system we felt much better.

For those skeptical of Haute Couture’s relevance in the current state of our world, what would you say to them?

We like to question things ourselves so we understand such questions. To us, couture provides a platform to show ideas, a laboratory for experimentation. But the entire fashion system is changing rapidly, what is the relevance of fashion today at all?

In terms of questioning the status quo, what are other issues you feel the need to speak out about?

For us, the most important thing is to be conscious. To take time, to think, to wonder. We don’t feel the need to be schoolmasters, just the need to zoom out and give perspective in some way or another.

Can you talk about your approach to design?

Our approach is to try to make something that hasn’t been seen before. This is what makes us most happy.

In 2015, Viktor&Rolf let go of its ready-to-wear collection to focus on couture. What has been the most experimental couture creation you’ve made since?

A painting that can be worn as a dress. Or was it a dress that can be hung up on the wall…

Looking back on the Viktor&Rolf legacy, what has been the riskiest move for the fashion house since its founding?

It was a bold step to start showing during haute couture in paris in 1998, we didn’t comply to even one rule of the Fédération. Still, they accepted us.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever disagreed on?

We don’t disagree often but one thing that keeps us divided is the temperature of the air-conditioning in the backseat of the car. The driver doesn’t know what to do or who to please.

When not creating incredible collections, what do the two of you do for fun?

What is that? 🙂