Fall 2017 Couture
July 5, 2017
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren kind of have a thing for dolls. The Dutch designers’ 1999 Russian Doll collection, in which Maggie Rizer stood on a revolving platform and was slowly dressed in layers of outfits, is perhaps their most famous to date, and they have, for years, created seasonal dolls donning the most significant look from any given show.
Dolls were a focus again this season, with the designers turning their models into giant felt characters. Each catwalker donned a huge, Bratz-like felt head, which, customized to resemble each model’s face, played off of the garments’ super-sized proportions.
“They’re action dolls” explained Horsting post-show. “They’re girls fighting for a better world.”
For the past few seasons, the designers have centered their collections around upcycling, giving recycled materials new life in their fantastical couture. This continued for Fall 2017, with the designers using recycled textiles to create patchwork wares (denim shorts and trousers, colorful skirts, textural t-shirts, and the like) that recalled Quaker quilts.
“The message was about diversity,” continued Horsting. “Patchwork, for us, was not only about being eco-conscious, but also about being a symbol for unity and getting everyone together.”
“The Quaker quilting is a stereotypical way of making patchwork, and we liked that,” added Snoeren.
The designers sent two male models down the runway, a move they hoped would further their message of inclusivity. This is the second time we’ve seen guys at couture this season, the first being at Ronald van der Kemp’s debut show.
The garments themselves were at once feminine and utilitarian. Horsting and Snoeren experimented with somewhat sporty, even outdoorsy looks, creating puffy robes and gowns in army green, navy blue, and neon orange that looked like down coats. Sometimes, the outerwear incorporated those quilting elements, with patches covering a giant bow or lining tiered ruffles.
At their core, nearly all of Fall’s looks comprised a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a puffer jacket, possibly suggesting that it’s time to climb out of the tulle gowns for which the designers are known and get down to work—to take some action. But that’s not to say the duo’s signature detailing wasn’t present—from the regal, constructed collars to the outsized, layered shoulders, this lineup was V&R through and through.
This isn’t the first time the designers have shown denim at couture, but seeing garments that we traditionally associate with workwear (the jeans, the puffer coats) in a couture context was interesting. The range seemed rooted in reality—albeit an alternate, over-the-top one—and geared toward a younger client who wants the singularity and craftsmanship couture affords, but without the old-world pretense and fussiness.
With this collection, it really feels like V&R is pioneering a new way of thinking about couture, one that embraces both craft and forward-thinking modernity. That’s something we certainly need more of.