• Hrishika Maniar

Viktor & Rolf Spring Summer '19 Couture: A review

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

You’ve probably seen pictures of it all over the internet. A huge white dress with big black writing saying ‘I’m not shy, I just don’t like you’, reposted and posted with ‘me’, #mood and all the same-same-but-different variations of those.

You reposted it innit?

It’s okay if you reposted it. At some point my sighs of ‘oh ffs this thing again’ and swift swipe to the next story stopped being accompanied by looking at who posted it. I ain’t judging.

But truth is, the collection is a commentary on exactly that - the whole culture of content-mining and reposting, which makes social media so dull. The phrases emblazoned across the dresses represent the repetition and banality of social media, particularly Instagram, and that’s exactly what has been happening since pictures of the collection hit social media channels.

Phrases such as ‘I’m not late, I just didn’t want to come’ are so typical of what you’d see on a meme on 12758493 different pages, with most people who engage with it basically saying ‘haha!!! you’re uninteresting but I am not!!! I do this thing!! I am so edgy!!!!’ Content-reposting because you’re so alpha? Viktor & Rolf ain’t buying it.

ok edgelord.

The collection was made to be a ‘strange contradiction’, according to Rolf Snoeren himself. Tons of tulle (okay, only 8 kilos to be exact), bright colours, and big skirts were emblazoned with these social media cliché phrases. It was a juxtaposition of beauty and banality, which perfectly encapsulated what Viktor & Rolf were trying to express. Maybe it was also depiction to what social media (yo Instagram) could have been - the dresses representing a rich growing-ground for art, talent, and beauty, only to be eclipsed by the phrases, representing what social media really is - a vacuum of influencers, overused memes, and unoriginal content.

Basically, if you think I’m reading into it too much, ignore innit. But about the whole contradiction thing, Snoeren himself said ‘All these statements that are so obvious or easy — there’s a lot of banality on Instagram and social media in general — are counterbalanced with this over-the-top, shimmery, romantic feeling.’

The opening look was here to make an impact. ‘No photos please’ was written on the purple and green dress, seemingly urging the audience to put their frickin’ phones down and enjoy the damn show. In a sad irony, however, people were still on their phones, focused on capturing the show on their phones. But, of course, right?

There was also commentary about the whole social media activism thing, with a particular white and neon-green dress embellished loudly and proudly with ‘give a damn’. Of course, it had its own paradoxes and contradictions. Social media so often tells us to give a damn about so many things happening in the world, yet it also happens to be one of the biggest distractions from said things.

The hypocrisy of ‘less is more’ is revealed with a dress that was anything but. Tiered tulle with jagged edges with a blush pink colour, stretching wide.

So where’s the review, you ask? Well, if you’ve read any more of the shit on this blog then you’ll probably know that I am so curious about the whole concept of social media, and how it controls so much of the stuff around us. That’s why this collection had me tingling at the toes. It’s a genius amalgamation of beauty and satire, impactful in both forms. But it’s typical Viktor & Rolf, no? They’ve done what they do best.

I feel like this is the direction that fashion should be going. A form of art which compels us to reconsider our obsessions, permeating the veil of aesthetics.

But even if we do take aesthetics into account, the collection is dramatic and daring. The typically feminine concept of a gown is made larger, more impactful. The whole collection is about the concept of our obsessions, and our preconceptions about what fashion should be, and about what social media gives us. The whole thing is muddled, shaken, stirred, and flipped, like an expensive cocktail that looks so sweet but hits your throat with a sharp taste of bitterness.

All pictures from Vogue.

Cover painting is The Death of Narcissus by François-Xavier Fabre.