By Sarah Casselman
Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are mild-mannered and scrupulously polite, yet they’re anything but boring. When the three of us meet at The Room at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto (the store held a VIP cocktail party in their honour in April), the look-alike Dutch duo’s off-the-wall wit is apparent the moment seating commences, with Horsting on one side of the six-foot-plus sofa and Snoeren on the other. A perfectly executed spontaneous stunt done with mirror-like precision—that’s just how Viktor & Rolf roll.
After graduating from the Netherlands’ Artez Institute of the Arts in 1992, the designers began working together, and by the following year they had relocated to Paris to launch their collection. Known for blurring the lines between art and fashion, Horsting and Snoeren specialized in highly conceptual couture design until they shifted into ready-to-wear in 2000. Signature details like pussycat bows, shirt frills and flowered corsages brought a whiff of reality to the label’s eccentric art house-style surrealism. In Fall 2003, Tilda Swinton took the runway followed by an army of clones made up in her likeness; in Fall 2005, model Lily Cole opened their bedroom-themed show wearing built-in bedding; and in Spring 2012, Barbie-esque babes in dresses with exaggerated stitching made their runway entrance, and exit, through a larger-than-life tulle skirt-turned-curtain.
This summer, Viktor & Rolf are playing dolls again. The designers will unveil a catwalk installation of their pint-sized hand-made porcelain dolls—with each one outfitted in an exact replica of a past design—at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Big Bang Bash on June 8 as part of Luminato in Toronto. (The public exhibition runs from June 9 to 30.) Fantasy fashion with a clever twist—welcome to the V&R funhouse.