Viktor & Rolf Does Couture for the Instagram Age
Memes, but make it fashion.
By Maya Campos
Twice a year, fashion’s elite gather to watch beautifully extravagant, hand made garments made by some of the biggest names in fashion. While you can usually expect to see lavish gowns with sparkling embellishment, this year, fashion spectators were met with something a little outside the haute couture norm: memes.
Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf have always been known for their avant-garde garments. Fashion media’s attraction to their runway performances and exaggerated silhouettes has always played an integral role in shaping their brand’s identity. With no advertising campaigns, the brands relationship with the public relies heavily on the mass amounts of media coverage they receive through their shows.
They titled their collection “Fashion Statements”, begging the question, “to what extent can you say something literally?” The show was like scrolling through an Instagram feed. The gowns featured popular internet sayings like, “I’m not shy I just don’t like you” and “Sorry I’m late I didn’t want to come.”
The exaggerated silhouettes of the gowns, while familiar to couture shows, served as a visual metaphor of the noise and intensity that social media makes. These dresses proved to make a clever contradiction: the very feminine princess-like dresses contrasted with the blunt and sarcastic sayings provokes a statement about feminism in social media. The statement the designers made was ironic; they literally let their gowns do the talking.
“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,” Rolf told Women’s Wear Daily.
Viktor and Rolf’s new take on social media and the fashion industry brings up the idea that society is so immersed in the virtual world, that we welcome it in spaces were its really not meant to be. While there was clearly a statement being made, the boldly printed words did take away from the art and craftsmanship of the collection. People were focused on what the words say instead of the beautiful pieces themselves.
But the collection did a great job of making an elite and exclusive world feel accessible and inclusive to the masses, which couture doesn't do often.