Iconic Moments in Fashion: Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture ss 2016

Have you ever imagined what a child’s imagination would look like if it came to life? What if a child’s imaginary friend sprung from their head and began to dance around the room? That was the beauty of Viktor & Rolf’s spring 2016 couture show. Childhood memories came out to dance and play among the very adult world of fashion. Unfortunately, in today’s fashion world, we rarely get to see whimsy and childhood charm walk the runway. Designers have created brands and taken them from the realm of imagination into the realm of industry, creating an engine hell-bent on pumping the world with constant doses of trends, fast fashion, and see-now-buy-now collections whose sole purpose is profit, not wonder.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily for fashion lovers around the world, the haute couture house of Viktor & Rolf has for years been associated with design that reaches beyond traditional fashion. While some houses’, like Chanel’s or Dior’s, primary focus was to modernize tradition, Viktor & Rolf are renowned for reinventing traditional haute couture values rather than modernizing of something that has been held dearly.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

Viktor & Rolf have created a brand that delves into some of Europe’s most important design niches. On one hand, V&R embraces deconstruction; they embrace the art of taking a garment apart and putting it back together in new and exciting ways. On the other hand, the brand is also deeply rooted in detail and high fashion prestige. This intense marriage of raw design and refined beauty encompassed their spring 2016 couture show. It was a dance between the cut and paste imagination of a child and the rigidness and simplicity of adult life.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

When we first see the collection, the clothing presented seem simple enough. A utilitarian shirtdress with a few paste on appliqués in white. A secret sprinkled here and there. Soon after, the dresses become more elaborate and more abstract. Audiences are left watching as the imagination of a child takes a simple idea and allows it to grow and blossom into something far more magical than just a cut out of an eye on a dress.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

As the collection progresses, the dreams of a child’s unchained mind come face to face with the stern rules of adult life. But the clash of the two isn’t what makes this collection so memorable. It’s the sheer dominance nostalgia and childhood imagination have over our adult lives. Even though the collection still adheres to its strict couture guidelines, the childhood dream world that began as a simple eye on a stark white dress grew into something more extravagant — something far more important than just fashion. The idea that Viktor & Rolf wanted to get had more to do with the flame of wonder that is ignited in childhood never truly going out than trying to parade models around in towering polo shirt totem poles for the sake of “fashion.” For both Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, creating fashion for the sake of fashion doesn’t seem to be the name of the game. Bringing dreams to life by taking inspiration from the world around them has always been the motive and lesson at V&R couture. And it’s a lesson in creativity all future designers should be listening too.

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Iconic Moments in Fashion: Jil Sander f/w 2012

Photo: Bloginity
Photo: Bloginity

Since the birth of contemporary fashion, many designers have stunned the fashion world with collections that push the boundaries of fashion and exceed the expectations of those within the fashion world. Their contributions not only solidify them as them as fashion geniuses, but also as artists in the rawest form, able to take inspirations from everyday life and turn them into moments of pure magic.

When it was announced that Belgian designer Raf Simons would not be returning as creative director for Jil Sander after the house’s fall / winter 2012 collection, the fashion world was left aghast. After having spent 7 successful years at the helm of Jil Sander, Raf and the fashion world were thrown into a flurry over the ordeal. Ultimately, Raf’s future within the fashion industry was placed into question. Where would he go? Why was he leaving? Would her lose his touch at another house? Soon after, rumours began to swirl that Simons was at the top of the list to receive the newly opened position at Dior after the unfortunate events that led to John Galliano’s termination at the historic house.

With such a sombre scenario, one would assume that Simons would try to go out with an extravagant bang a la Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton or an extremely dark and moody atmosphere like the one seen during Christian Lacroix’s final collection. Instead, Raf created a world where clothing seemed to caress the models in the simplest and most sensual way. A collection which grounded in the softest pastels and neutrals, was offset by striking flashes of metallics, daring cuts, and tasteful glimpses of nudity.

Photo: Marcus Tondo
Photo: Marcus Tondo

The first thing one notices when looking at the collection, is the sense of purity and refinement it creates. Simons sent models down the runway elegantly holding their oversized coats together. This simple gesture creates an air of mystery about the woman Raf is showcasing. She’s fresh faced, pure, and angelic on the surface, but is she hiding more behind her first impressions? Is she hinting that she isn’t as one dimensional as the sweet pastels make her seem? This is the important question Raf Simons poses throughout the collection. His woman isn’t here or there, she isn’t this or the other, she’s a woman with many facets and isn’t going to hesitate to let those facets gleam. This is evident as the opening look, a delicately held together blush pink coat transitions into a warm chocolate brown variant, then navy (no longer held open), and finally entering a stage of sensual sheer numbers that help continue Raf’s theme.

Photo: Marcus Tondo
Photo: Marcus Tondo

After having digested Raf’s initial idea of soft, reserved, and mysterious femininity, he introduces the next facet of his Jil Sander woman. Models began walking out in dresses and ensembles that were bathed in different shades of nude. The nude outfits, which more often than not came complete with sheer panels, created a sense of sensuality. His woman was still the same as she was when she walked out in her plush coat, she’s just revealed a little bit more about herself with time. The idea of female sensuality ran rampant throughout the collection, however, it wasn’t shown in an exploitative way, rather, the complete opposite; she was empowered. Simons’ vision for his Jil Sander woman was clear. She’s a woman in charge of her own sexuality, she can choose to wear sheer panels across her breasts if she likes, she can expose parts of her body in a sensual way rather than a vulgar, because she knows who she is and what she wants from others. One key piece in this section of the collection is the first sheer strapless dress that’s seen after the first initial coats are introduced. The dress is magical in its own way. It manages to encompass the softness and delicacy of the the female body whilst simultaneously introducing an underlying sense of sexuality, where the line between demure and dominant are blurred.

Photo: Marcus Tondo
Photo: Marcus Tondo

Once the nude tones finish telling their story, Raf Simons continues to his glorious finale. Soft pastels and neutrals are replaced with deep shades of navy, red, black, and various metallics. His woman has finally revealed the extent of herself, she’s unmasked herself and peeled back every layer. You can finally see the raw sensuality in Raf’s designs through the navy dresses, expertly tailored with just the right amount of bare skin showing on the shoulders and chest. His jolts of metallic peeking through the neutral coats add a sense of flirtiness to the final looks; allowing the collection to continue feeling light, even in it’s darkest shades. The finale is then introduced by a symphonic boom brought to you by none other than the Smashing Pumpkins song “Tonight, Tonight,” which builds the level of emotions in the room to a breaking point. Seeing the collection end with 5 black dresses that all feature varying amounts of shiny black leather, some parts almost looking lacquered, while simultaneously hearing Corgan sing “we’ll crucify the insincere tonight” neatly wraps the entire collection together. These dresses tell the final chapter of Raf’s story, where his soft spoken woman tricked the world into thinking she could only be demure, yet she transformed into a dominant lioness right before our very eyes.

Photo: Marcus Tondo
Photo: Marcus Tondo

In the end, no one would have guessed that Simons greatest collection would come from a time of uncertainty. With so much at stake, the collection manages to stun and awe. Perfectly encapsulating his work for Jil Sander, all the while giving his audience a taste for what was to come at Dior. His mastery of tailoring and his play on volume show us why Monsieur Simons is held in such high regard among the fashion world and this, his greatest collection, was just stepping stone to greater things.

Look at this way, how many times has a designer and a collection brought a model to tears? Exactly.

Photo: The Fashion Spot
Photo: The Fashion Spot