‘Grey’ is not the first word that springs to mind when describing Viktor and Rolf’s collections. The Dutch duo is renowned for their surrealist, extravagant collections that are often critiqued as being unmarketable as they are so wild. Emphasis is often placed on concept and performance in their work and they always bring something exciting to Paris fashion week.
However, it is clear Horsting and Snoeren have been paying attention to their press, as this season’s offerings toned down the drama to produce a sell-able and almost sensible collection.
Nevertheless, Viktor and Rolf managed to retain their surrealist quirkiness through use of trompe d’oil stitching into jumpers, a technique patented by famed late twenties/early thirties designer- Elsa Schiaparelli. Cable knit patterns formed embellishment on monochrome chiffon tops, creating a graphic 20’s aesthetic.
The rope theme continued through boxy jackets and long overcoats that featured wool knit panels in more shades of grey and white. A particularly beautiful blazer featured grey cable knitted sleeves upon a traditional black tuxedo jacket, providing a cosy yet business-like aesthetic.
Twenties influences continued to arise as the show went on. Early looks featured beautifully cut maxi dresses with waterfall hems and wrap detail around the waist, all made from an ash grey jersey that was reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s early uses of the material in the late twenties. Block geometric embellishments upon sweaters, peplum tops and sheer maxi dresses offered a nod to the Art Deco movement. Even the use of shag pile furs upon waist jackets and long, luxurious overcoats gave an opulent twenties vibe.
Colour was used carefully and sparingly. Among a sea of sleek monochromes, a hint of duck-egg blue, navy and coral added a little vibrancy.
Despite all this, the collection had a very modern, chic aesthetic that provided a fresh angle to the new season. Sweeping jumpers and skirts were cut in an asymmetric fashion and exuded an effortlessly cool look. A slightly boxy thigh-length coat with thin cable knit sleeves and pale blue panels looked instantly marketable and could well be the ‘it’ coat for winter. Everything looked well styled and appealing, without all the fuss that Viktor and Rolf normally inject into their brand.
This season, it is clear Viktor and Rolf set out to make a profit. Nevertheless, it is quite nice to see a collection that isn’t bursting to the brim with bows, ribbons and fuss. Perhaps this is a new direction for the brand. However, you can take the extravagance out of the collections, but you’ll never take the extravagance out of the designer.