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Viktor & Rolf Dressing Up in Public

Godfrey Deeny
March 06th, 2010 @ 11:42 AM - Paris

Often the simplest of ideas are the most effective in fashion, which was very much the case with the latest runway show, or work or performance art, by Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf.

In a thoroughly brilliant piece of fashion staging Saturday, March 6 in Paris, the designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren played the role of dressers, though not backstage but on the catwalk with the models.

The action opened with veteran, and still skinny, model Kristen McMenamy appearing in ten layers of clothing, a five-foot wide silhouette, looking like she weighed 300 lbs and covered in a dramatic dark fox collar over a boucle wool coat. Next, the designers in black tuxedoes marched her out to a central, slowly turning disc in the middle of their impressive catwalk, composed of an ingenious new industrial print featuring zeppelins, pylons and factory chimneys.

As each new model appeared the duo would take one layer off McMenamy, and put it on the newcomer. Half way through the show, they reversed the process and began dressing the veteran, until she had resumed her monumental size by the end.

Many garments, once taken off the queen figure, were turned inside out before being put on another model, showing the practicality of the collection.

“We took off 10 layers and put back on nine,” Horsting explained.

For fall, Viktor & Rolf see women in knitted leotards, slinky leather parkas and trench coats in large pattern plaids. Everything has little bits of hardware attached – high-tech buckles on coats, metal studs on cat-suits and lines of studs on mannish white shirts. The collection had the usual Viktor & Rolf preferences, huge triangular lapels, outlandish collars and oversized ruffles, and in a sense, was not terribly ground-breaking.

But as a show, it was surely the most brilliantly executed either side of the Atlantic this season. The timing and execution throughout were flawless, in an exemplary display by the team of French show producer Alex de Betak.

“Really, really amazing!” cooed Lindsay Lohan, with new jet black hair as she embraced Snoeren.

As the show reached the crescendo, the brilliant soundtrack by fellow Dutchman Diederik Idenburg peaked with huge organ chords, with hundreds of fans standing and applauding. Amid the almost deafening applause, McMenamy, in silver fox, strode off the stage like a latter day Catherine de Medici.

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