I make a brilliant habit of losing my cool when I meet people whose work I admire. The first time Eva said hello backstage during my first season in New York, all I could blurt out was that I liked her new haircut (at the time) – though thankfully, she now knows me a little better than that fleeting brain explosion. While shooting behind the scenes on set with Darren McDonald, I basically shouted that I adored the way he worked with light before he had even finish introducing himself. We reflected on this teen-Marg hilarity a few weeks ago before a show – perhaps it ought to be your fame gimmick, he said.
And so, I can only hope that in four years from now, Viktor, Rolf and I can reminisce on that time in Paris when Margaret turned up to what she thought was just going to be an in-and-out press fitting ahead of Viktor & Rolf’s show, only to be rendered speechless when Victor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren emerged from the stairwell to say hello.
Pull it together, girl. Though, let’s have a little context.
As I explained to the pair a few too many times, so much of how I shoot, style, dress, and even my being in this fashion industry in the first place, can be attributed the costume design work I frequented in my more intensive ballet days. Our first encounter, late one twelve-year-old night when I should have been in bed, when the world was still trying to purge itself of kitten heels and hipster jeans, came with oversized bows, and largely inspired the tutu I designed for my first solo national championships. A year later, Look 43 of their Spring 2006 collection was exactly I wanted to wear all day, every day – though alas, I had a school uniform, I was barely 4’5”, and I hardly knew where to buy a black lace bralet, let alone get away with wearing it out of the house. By Fall 2008, I had sprouted to 5 feet, and Viktor & Rolf’s ready-to-wear that season changed everything I thought I knew about fabric structures, silhouettes for women, and attitude to theatrical dressing outside of my performing arts bubble (my ballet tutor and academy principal were none too happy that my end-of-year tutu was primarily grey felted wool rather than layers upon layers of tulle (I suffered the weight of the thing in silence – fashion is pain).
The duo’s Spring 2010 ‘chainsaw massacre’ came along completely blew my mind. It was expressive, it was feminine, it was powerful despite its deconstrutions, and most importantly, it wasn’t melodramatic. Viktor & Rolf, as a brand, as never been about that garishness in clothes that can be so intimidating to a third party eye. Even when there is an element of theatre, so to speak, it remains just that – an element, not an objective – and spins on the turbulent apex of art, haute couture, a woman’s personal style, and societal commentary in some kind of perfect creative state. To that effect, Josh Olins’ captures of Magdalena in the collection for Dazed & Confused that February, and Isabel Lucas by Simon Lekias the following month in Harper’s BAZAAR Australia, remain two of my favourite editorial moments of the past decade.
And, just when I thought they were done, their Spring 2014 Couture revolved around the ballerina and her stamina.
Hopefully, we have now established the personal gravity of wearing Viktor & Rolf’s immaculate tailoring to what turned out to be an equally immaculate show and collection.
Interestingly, Viktor & Rolf’s relentless attention to detail is most evident in the fact that more than 50% of my captures from show day at the Tuileries were of the backs of garments as the models sailed back up the runway. Not once was there are blank canvas-ed cold shoulder – rather, something more to look forward to once the wide lapels, bustier insets, printed ruching and cable knit texture had passed. I feel like there’s a Coco Chanel, or Einstein, or Chuck Norris quote on that. Something about the importance of a woman having more allure as she walks away than on face value and first impressions.
Possibly too convoluted for the standard male mindmap.
But, not for Viktor & Rolf.
Though a few steps closer to street accessibility than their signature surrealism, the collection was not without its plot twists and textiles to go over with a magnifying glass, and two-dimensional references on the sly to past silhouetted extravagances. Forty clean lines and layered textures later, I was glad that I’d picked out this jacket from the menswear half of their Rue Saint-Honoré store, rather than the white flared dress I’d contemplated to go over these happy pants.
Such seems to be the realist sentiment of the season.