Viktor & Rolf

25 February 2011


They are up there, but it doesn’t seem like they are up there. When you sit in front of them, at first you almost seem uncomfortable at how at ease and relaxed they both look, despite working for a fashion brand that surely takes almost all their time. We might have said this before for other jurors we’ve interviewed, but it always strikes us how easy going and polite people you could easily define as ‘fashion superstars’ actually are. It is just true: the media literally build an eccentric and “bitchy” story around popularity when most of the times you just discover it isn’t so. For Viktor & Rolf, it just isn’t so. Concentrated and focused on each and every finalist project they saw at ITS#NINE, exchanging opinions with the finalists, relaxed and with a wonderfully positive attitude. We sat down during a lunch-break and just easily talked about vacations and places to go. For this, and for many other reasons, we just hysterically want them BACK!

Viktor Horsting (b.1969) & Rolf Snoeren (b.1969) met while studying fashion at the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in The Netherlands (1989-1992). Their first collection ‘Hyères’ (1993) based on distortion, reconstruction and layering, won three prizes at the Salon Europeen des Jeunes Stylistes at the Festival International de Mode et de Photographie.

The subsequent presentation of four critically-acclaimed collections in experimental art spaces affirmed their reputation as fashion artisans allowing them in 1998 to show their first Haute Couture collection (Spring/Summer 1998). Focusing purely on couture, they stunned ever-growing audiences with the extravagant and unorthodox nature of their designs, marking their ascent into the realm of high fashion.

They returned to ready-to-wear in 2000, with ‘Stars and Stripes’ (Autumn/Winter 2000-01). An instant commercial success, the bold collection adopted the motif of the American flag to announce their global aspirations. With the launch of the iconic wax seal in the same year, Viktor & Rolf had established themselves as a true brand. In response to Viktor & Rolf’s own desire for classic clothing with a dash of wit, the menswear line ‘Monsieur’ was added in 2003 (Autumn/Winter). .

The Viktor & Rolf range has since grown to include shoes, accessories and eyewear. In 2005 Viktor & Rolf launched their first fragrance, the widely popular ‘Flowerbomb’. ‘Antidote’, the first fragrance for men, was launched in 2006.

With the desire to expand, Viktor & Rolf entered into a partnership with Only the Brave in 2008, allowing the company to develop new product ranges, extend distribution and open further boutiques. Viktor & Rolf retain their penchant for research, retaining a strong presence in the art world. The work of Viktor & Rolf is represented in the collections of the most important fashion museums in the world, as well as in numerous private collections. Viktor & Rolf have additionally been included in numerous exhibitions such as ‘Viktor & Rolf par Viktor & Rolf, Première Décennie’, Musee de la Mode et du Textile, Paris (2004) and ‘The House of Viktor & Rolf’ at both the Barbican Museum, London and the Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2008-09).

Along with their involvement in the visual arts, Viktor & Rolf have collaborated on a number of projects within the performing arts. The most recent, with acclaimed director Robert Wilson, saw the production of costumes for his stage production of the Weber opera ‘Der Freischütz’ that was performed at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany (2009).

By the end of 2009, Viktor & Rolf took on another collaboration, this time together with Dutch luxury department store the Bijenkorf. Together, they launched an exclusive, one-off Christmas collection existing of lifestyle products, thereby functioning as a campaign around the publication of their first self-written book, Fairytales. Through fashion, commentary, and beyond, Viktor & Rolf continue to deliver their characteristic form of extraordinary glamour, proving them worthy recipients of Dutch fashion’s highest distinction the MODINT ‘Grand Seigneur’ (2009).

From all of the above is there any possible doubt about the creativity of this duo? Experimentation is at the core of Viktor & Rolf, and finding the perfect balance between free creative expression and commercially sellable products is a mission that we cannot but believe they have totally accomplished. It is therefore clear and obvious that any opinion they have on what is creativity is very interesting to read…

What is in your opinion creativity, and what does it mean in your life?

Creativity means that one has the desire and ability to make something out of “nothing”. This starts with imagination.  In our case, our imagination is a parallel universe that we share together.  It is where we are happiest.

Can you tell us about your experience at ITS?

It was hot!! And there was a lot of hot young talent. It was great and we saw a lot of amazing stuff.

Do you like what you see in young designers today? is there something more you would expect from them?

We cannot make general statements about “young designers”, we don’t know enough of them. But we liked a lot what we saw in Trieste.

Looking back at your career and seeing the young talents of today, what is the best advice you feel you can give them, apart from believing in what they do?

Learn skills. Gain experience. Be perseverant. Be very focused in your work. Have a sense of humour.

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