Viktor & Rolf are no strangers to runway experimentation. Their conceptual spectacles are the stuff of fashion legend, so when the Paris couture shows were canceled, they initially wondered whether to skip the season. “But we felt in the end that our creativity is always the best antidote,” said Rolf Snoeren.
Lucky for us, because the short film they presented on Wednesday is among the wittier offerings of this fashion season. Titled “Change,” it takes the form of a traditional show in a couture salon, with the singer Mika providing a voiceover in the style of a British news reel from the Fifties.
“The start of the thought process is thinking about how the fashion show will evolve,” said Viktor Horsting. “For quite a while, we have had the feeling that fashion shows are a bit stretched. There’s so many in so many places in the world, and the mystique is a bit lost. So, on the one hand, it can still be an amazing, wonderful, energetic moment. On the other, there’s just too many.”
The outfits were divided into three sections: one for anxiety and sadness; one for confusion, and one for love and hope. Each theme was represented by three outfits: a nightgown, a dressing gown and a coat for leaving the house — the latter six feet wide, to ensure maximum social distancing.
“The subject is the emotional rollercoaster that we all experienced and are experiencing,” Snoeren said. “We are discussing a little bit mental health and how to dress for your emotions, as well to say that all emotions are valid and necessary.”
It turns out gloom is rather attractive. Options in the section included a midnight blue satin Empire-line nightie with lace incrustrations in the shape of rain clouds. The dark gray chenille dressing gown featured extra-long slouchy sleeves and was belted with an oversize bow, a brand signature.
Capping off the sequence was a fake leather overblown trenchcoat dotted in spiky cones. “There is a lot to feel angry about and this garment will communicate exactly that,” the voiceover gravely opined.
Confusion took the form of a pale pink satin dress dotted with contradictory emojis, and a fuzzy dressing gown with large diagonal sashes. “An échelle of bows endeavors to soften the impact of muffled horror, which is emphasized by the listless color scheme of pale pink and canary yellow,” Mika noted.
The love section was probably the least creative of the three, bar for the finale outfit, a sweeping white faux leather coat sprouting rows of glittering hearts. But in its ironic tone and ingenious commentary on COVID-19-induced phobia, the collection will likely stand as a leading example of fashion as social commentary.