Paris fashion... all draped in fun

One collection. One model. Two designers. Fashion editor Susannah Frankel sees Viktor & Rolf

It was the turn of the Dutch-born designers, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren to take to the Paris catwalk yesterday, with all the dramatics that have become a hallmark of their shows.

Perhaps best known in Britain for having installed the world's largest and most glamorous doll's house, peopled by Viktor & Rolf-clad dolls, at the Barbican Centre in 2008, this pairing will go down in fashion history for taking high-concept presentations and clothing to explore a signature style rooted in the staples of classic French fashion. They have variously deconstructed, reconstructed or scaled up to cartoonishly overblown proportions, often to spectacular effect.

Viktor & Rolf have, in the past, treated their audience to a spot of ballroom dancing, tap-danced their way across their own catwalk and shown their clothes to live accompaniments courtesy of Rufus Wainwright and, last season, a heavily pregnant Roisin Murphy. Theirs is a decidedly upbeat – and at best – uplifting viewpoint, designed to bring a smile to the lips.

For autumn/winter 2010, the designers dressed the Nineties supermodel Kristen McMenamy in what might not unreasonably be described as an entire wardrobe of clothing, only to peel off each layer and adapt its proportions to fit other models on a rotating platform.

This is not the first time the designers have undertaken such a ruse. In the winter of 1999 their Russian Doll collection was shown in its entirety on the diminutive model Maggie Rizer. The difference this time around, however, was that garments were reversed: skirts became capes, jackets morphed into gilets and more as McMenamy's clothing was removed and an entire new wardrobe given back to her by the two identically clad designers.

With all the excitement surrounding a performance that few will soon forget, it would be all too easy to overlook the reason designers choose to show in the first place – the clothes. With this in mind, the Chanel bouclé wool suit and little black dress, the Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking tuxedo and chubby fur were all given a Viktor & Rolf makeover, principally in black and embellished with the utilitarian details – zips, buckles, D-rings, metal eyelets and so forth – that are of the moment.

Earlier in the day, the Japanese designer Junya Watanabe offered up an extraordinarily sensitive and loving interpretation of military dress which went to prove that, in the right hands, this particular reference can be hugely poignant.

Displaying both technical virtuosity and a sartorial purity that is second to none, Watanabe's intricately worked flight jackets and parkas, edged with proudly fake fur as white and fluffy as cotton wool, were worn with narrow white shirts, buttoned up to the throat, and softer pleated, draped jersey dresses and skirts that were as quintessentially feminine as they were lovely to behold.

Watanabe has long been preoccupied with US heritage clothing, treating denim, in particular, with just as much respect as a traditional couturier might the finest silks. This was an elaboration on that particular theme. There were no art-directed catwalk follies, pyrotechnic lighting nor thumping soundtracks. Instead, models were accompanied by nothing more overtly attention seeking than a gospel choir. "Amazing Grace", they sang as proceedings drew to a close. And this was amazingly graceful indeed.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat