|Picasso outfit for the Ballets Russes – 1917|
I managed to even shock myself but I’ve realised that I look forward to the Viktor & Rolf couture show even more than the Chanel show nowadays, I want my jaw to drop and my mind to be blown by couture and Viktor & Rolf never disappoint. Yes, they normally only show a handful of outfits (between 20 and 25) next to the big guns (Chanel and Valentino normally show 60 to 70) but it’s what the manage to do in their smaller collections that is truly astounding. Last fall they had models wearing actual framed art, and the season before that they put full sized corn dollies down the runway, practically wearing teepees.
I’ve been looking at Ballet Russes costumes and theatre costumes designed by artists like Picasso and Sonia Delauney recently and when I flicked through the collection tonight it hit me – these guys are the modern day equivalents of these legends of the art world. They always build the collection beautifully with hints of what’s to come – by the end you can guarantee that your mind is usually blown, as they’ve taken a concept way further than what you could imagine was possible. For me the Dutch duo have been at the helm of the most exciting and inspiring house for a long time now (commercial success of fragrance aside).
Today’s collection definitely had the essence of Picasso if you had to cite a principal influence – the disjointed facial features and scattered body parts were familiar in that respect (the absence of colour made the collection all the more unique). Colour was unnecessary – if anything it would have distracted from the work. Breasts were carved out of skirts, oversized arms were reaching to the sides at crazy angles and huge blank 3D faces obscured the heads of the models. The black ink flower which features on their logo was stamped on some pieces; pairing these theatrical creations with hard, black punk boots seemed like the right thing to do. The crazier it got the more I mentally clapped my hands together with glee. It always makes me laugh when they appear at the end looking relatively normal (I secretly want them to be a little bit dressed up, like mad dandies).
Many designers have designed for the theatre, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel included. These outfits need to be put to good use in a surrealist play, not just destined to be part of an exhibit. Guys, you’d better start writing the script.