Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Viktor and Rolf exhibits avant-garde pieces in Spring Fashion Week

Camryn Rosenstein

Contributing Writer

If anyone has ever seen “Sex and the City,” then they would know that fashion week truly begins the first week of February. However, what they do not tell you is that there is actually another fashion week right before “fashion month.” This fashion week is Spring Couture Week, which takes place during the middle weeks of January — in Paris, of course. Although Couture Week includes many of the designers that show during Fashion Week, Couture Week is special because the designs tend to be more avant-garde. Couture Week collections include pieces that are often then used for magazine editorials, photoshoots or celebrity red carpet appearances. The collection pieces created for regular fashion week are those which can be bought in-store, thus these collections are called “ready to wear.” Although Couture Week is super fascinating as a whole, I would like to narrow in on a specific designer’s show: the French brand, Viktor and Rolf. 

It has become increasingly popular for fashion brands to take a political and social focus in their designs. French designers Viktor and Rolf created an 18-piece collection for Spring Couture Week 2019 in Paris, which occurred in the last week of January. This collection is especially unique because all the pieces were dresses with special discourse. Viktor and Rolf used their dresses as a platform to express social and gendered rhetoric. Some of these messages include: “Less is more,” “I am my own muse,” “I want a better world,” “Leave me alone” and “Give a damn.” I think Viktor and Rolf’s discourse is highlighting social issues such as global consumerism and sustainable design and climate change. Viktor and Rolf’s dress that says “Less is more” has five layers, each layer getting larger. I think the designers are trying to emphasize global consumerism in its design. The layers could represent the many pieces behind consumer culture and how it is suffocating our world, especially after the United Nations report came out last year that explained that if we do not try to fix the world now, there’s no going back. This is largely due to the fashion industry and the amount of clothing produced. 

Viktor and Rolf’s designs also include gendered rhetoric, which shows the designers’ support for women’s rights. Over the last year, the fashion industry has taken a big stand in the #MeToo movement. Viktor and Rolf’s dress that says “NO” could reflect the brand’s condemnation of sexual abuse, as well as advocating for women’s choice and ability to say “NO” to men.

Another dress in Viktor and Rolf’s collection that promotes women’s equality is the one that says “I am my own muse.” Since the beginning of art and fashion, designers and artists have had muses, those muses most always being women. Think about Pablo Picasso; he had several women muses for his artwork. These women were being used for their allure, lust and beauty. Muses are seen as objects, often highly sexualized, which in turn promotes a negative mindset about one’s self worth and appearance. Viktor and Rolf’s muse dress is so unique and important because it breaks down the double standard that focuses only on a woman’s looks and not on her personality or intelligence. This message encourages women to embrace their whole selves, that any women can be their own muse, that they are good enough inside and out. Yes, this may seem a bit cliché, but just go with it. 

At the end of the day, I think Viktor and Rolf’s designs were only the beginning for social and political activism on the runway for the 2019 season — I think there is so much more of it to come in the next month. 

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