Viktor & Rolf have always used the runway to present their garments as works of art. Two years ago, their F/W 15 couture collection featured models wearing dresses that literally functioned as work of art–they were paintings that could hang on the wall as well as on the human body. This year, the large doll heads that paraded down proved their recent F/W 17 show was no exception.
The entire collection features the MA-1 bomber jacket manipulated in various techniques, resulting in several silhouettes ranging from flared skirts with enormous leg of mutton sleeves to asymmetrical ankle-length dresses. Tight puffed bows, layered ruffles, and the typical ribbed knit hem decorate the gorgeous drapes.
Quilted patchwork runs throughout, mostly on the denim bottoms, but it is featured in the bomber jackets as well, adding pops of color and print in diamonds and hexagons.
But let’s talk about what Viktor & Rolf loves to push–the spectacle of the runway. The show opens with walking dolls with heads five times the size of a human head, and these dolls cover half the show. The dolls come in all skin colors and hairstyles, but the facial features remain the same, aside from eye and lip color.
A few of the doll heads involve a patchwork of various skin tones and printed fabric in the same method that is applied to the garments. Their large faces come off as slightly eerie, as dolls sometimes do, but the size is certainly a little comical and bounces us all back to childhood fantasies and imaginations surrounding toys and dress up.
It is slightly jarring when the first model enters the runway as a human and not a doll, but as the second half of the show continues it is clear there is a conscious effort to have a multiracial representation in the model casting and the dolls. The few male models scattered throughout are a pleasant surprise and help to show the fluidity of the garments and the bodies themselves. Womenswear Daily reports that Rolf Snoeren stated “Reality is so surreal sometimes, nowadays, so we wanted to show the surreal and the real.” The dolls’ presence was indeed surreal and bizarre, and in contrast, the inclusion of models of colour and male models is being normalized.
Through the casting and the integration of streetwear with couture techniques and runway, Viktor & Rolf are most definitely telling us that they are current and they are relevant. While different from the currently trendy puffer jacket, these beautiful techniques not typically applied to puffed material certainly will put new puffer silhouettes on the street.