Barebones; Form and Function

By Jo Phillips

If ever there was a fashion designer that wanted to explore the limits of wearability, function and form it in fact would be two; Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren aka Viktor&Rolf. The duo are known for producing works that meet at the roundabout of art, fashion, performance and concept.  They of course sit in the middle of the roundabout..

082 Sketches

Shirt Symphony S/S 2011, Sketches. Picture credit: Courtesy and ©Viktor&Rolf

They met whilst studying at Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in 1989, and once they  graduated in 1992, they began working together in Paris.  Initially,  shunned by the fashion industry, they were well received in the art world. Subsequently, art institutions  began to acquire their garments.  Starting out producing only Haute Couture outfits they moved to ready to wear and included menswear for a while but moved back to only Haute Couture including bridal collections,  as it best enabled them to fully explore their beliefs and questions.  




Viktor&Rolf: Cover Cover: Idea/concept, image editing and design by Irma Boom. Phaidon

Their take on Fashion is pure theatre; they express themselves and their moods through their shows, talking of these being more than a trend but a communication tool for stories and emotions just like a play at the theatre. Extravagant silhouettes, witty use of materials and irreverent concepts are the signature of the duo.  There wax logo seal logo bearing the initial V&R is just another touch that signifies their humour. They have additionally created several fragrances including Flowerbomb and  Bonbon for women as well as Spicebomb  and Antidote for men


Although initially living in Paris they relocated back to a city close to Amsterdam, where their brand is now based.

On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary there is much to celebrate.  Viktor&Rolf, have a large exhibition at the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam; a collaboration with the Dutch designers and Canadian curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot.  It will spotlight examples of a quarter of a century of their creations; 45 Viktor&Rolf couture pieces, as well as costumes created for ballet and opera  at the exhibition ‘

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years’ from 27th May to 30 September, 2018  Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam.



Viktor&Rolf: Cover Cover: Idea/concept, image editing and design by Irma Boom. Phaidon

These exhibition is of course a little  far flung for most to access so the next best thing?   Phaidon new book Vikto&Rolf Cover Cover.  The book has been conceived and  designed by graphic designer Ima Boom brings the legendary duo to life.  The book as daring as the duo is made up of 8 page gatefolds, is hand sewn with the paper starting off super fine and getting thicker the deeper the reader delves in to the collections.

V&R 2D



Rich with full fashion photography by the likes of Tim Walker, Inez and Vinoodh as well as sketches and catwalk images;  each of the 8 gatefolds deals with a specific collection giving a wonderful overview and insight into the working,  creative world of these two designers.  The book is a refection within the pages as its is in its very carnation, a creative masterpiece just like the two of them!




Van Gogh Girls S/S 2015. Picture credit: Courtesy and © Viktor&Rolf

115 Boulevard


Boulevard of Broken Dreams S/S 2017, Model: Jay Wright. Picture credit: Photo Marijke Aerden

071 Cutting Edge


Cutting Edge Couture S/S 2010, model: Kasia Struss. Picture credit: Courtesy and © Viktor&Rolf

Published by Phaidon 6th July 1028

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