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This summer, the Barbican Art Gallery is showcasing the work of the Netherlands designer duo Viktor & Rolf. This is the retrospective showing their highly influential work of the past fifteen years.

Viktor & Rolf ExhibitionViktor & Rolf Exhibition

They wear Joe 90 style nerd square glasses, matching suits, and – like any couple that have been together for so long – they finish each other’s sentences.

Viktor & Rolf Exhibition

Viktor & Rolf have been working together since 1992, and have taken the fashion world by storm with their particular blend of cool irony and extraordinary elegance. They launched the widely famous perfume, Flowerbomb, in October 2004 by L’Oreal and oversaw a sell-out collection for high street brand H&M in 2006. The House of Viktor & Rolf presents all the signature pieces from past 25 collections in their career from 1992.

Viktor & Rolf Exhibition

This highlight of the show is the huge dollhouse, measuring six meters high and three floors. Fifty-four specially designed dolls by traditional Belgian doll makers, each around 70 cm tall, are wearing a perfect miniature version of Victor & Rolf collections. All are, handmade by the designers, of course. Each doll has not only been dressed in Victor & Rolf, but also has been made to look like the model that originally wore the item on the catwalk. Even the hair has been styled by a hairdresser.

Viktor & Rolf Exhibition

In the gallery, upstairs and down, it is as if the miniature dolls have magically grown to human size, intended to give visitors the feeling that they are actually entering the rooms of the doll house itself.

Viktor & Rolf Exhibition

Russian Doll (1999-2000) is one of the key moments of their career. A single model simply wearing a natural jute dress walked onto the stage and Viktor & Rolf themselves dress her with ten more independent layers in front of a catwalk audience. This is not only fashion but also unique performance art. Launch is the collection of their “Dreams in miniature” (1996). At the start of their career, before they became popular, Victor & Rolf created a miniature installation of their ambitions. Consisting of a catwalk show with dolls, a fashion shoot, a shop with glass windows and the launch of a fake perfume with an ad campaign and press release.

Viktor & Rolf Exhibition

At The Fashion Show (2007-2008) each model is dressed as a walking event, harnessed to independent lighting and sound systems from their own scaffolding rugs. Bedtime Story (2005-2006) uses bed linen, quilt blanket and a red rose as its signature motif. Twenty-five unique collections, each with a significant piece, along with catwalk video work background, you can see their totally original ideas, uniqueness, and excellent humour and elegance.

“Designers tend to concentrate each season but we think fashion is continuous. This show celebrate our works include the past.” They say. “We also tend to follow the newest trend. But if we just look back there may be something yet not discovered, that is still attractive.” After finding out what they have been up to for the last fifteen years, it may be worth looking back through your own closet.

The House of Viktor & Rolf
Date: June 18th – September 21st, 2008
Place: Barbican Art Gallery
Address: Barbican Centre, Silk Street London, EC2Y 8DS

Viktor & Rolf Boutique
Address: 14 via Sant Andrea, 20121, Milan, Italy
Tel: 0039-02-796091

Text: Sayaka Hirakawa, Simon Borkin
Photos: Sayaka Hirakawa

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