Thursday, October 05, 2006

Viktor and Rolf: are they thinking ahead or behind?

NO one comes to a fashion show looking for subversive acts. Strange politics do turn up on the runways, of course, usually in the form of some weird or occasionally toxic symbolic gesture: a woman with her arms bound or else wearing a cloth Abu Ghraib hood or a Hannibal Lecter mask made from plaited hair.

These images seem to arise from the collective unconscious, or anyway let’s hope they do. It is a lot more troubling to think that designers comprehend the meaning of half the stuff they produce and a relief to remember that a lot of it subsides quickly into the muck of failed ideas.

Yet every so often a little coup occurs that can jolt even the blasé. This happened on Monday afternoon at a show staged by Viktor & Rolf. “We were thinking about making your own rules within a structure,” Rolf Snoeren, half of the Dutch team, said after the show, whose theme was that most mannered of art forms, ballroom dancing.


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