Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years, A Retrospective

The House at the End of the World, 2005 By David LaChapelle Studio Viktor&Rolf, Bedtime Story, ready-to-wear collection, AW 2005

















Fashion royalty Viktor&Rolf, are celebrating a 25 year retrospective at the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam, Holland. From May through to 30 September 2018, fans of the designers can get an up close and personal viewpoint of some of their most famous and innovative pieces. From the theatrical Van Gogh Girls of 2015, the iconic 2010 Chainsaw Massacre collection, with gaping, gravity-defying holes in each piece, to the overtly padded 2005 Bedtime Story collection, consistently taking the designer’s concept of ‘Wearable art’ to the highest levels of art and dramatic haute couture.

Russian Doll, haute couture collection, AW 1999


Canadian curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot has worked directly in collaboration with the Dutch designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren,  to create a thoroughly intriguing exploration into the various areas of inspiration in the designers’ World. Enabling the general public to view in accurate detail, the construction of each iconic runway couture garment and a glimpse into the genius psyche of the Viktor & Rolf partnership.


Van Gogh Girls, haute couture collection, SS 2015


In their own words: “We often play with the idea of two people being one, or both of us being of one mind, and we play with our image to express that.” This theme is visible throughout the retrospective, showcasing the power of two creative minds in creating serious art-based fashion and then fabricating these mind-bending concepts into reality. These show-stopping and notable couture pieces by the design duo are now all available for scrutiny at the Kunsthal, a homecoming for the Dutch designers.


Viktor&Rolf by Anton Corbijn Amsterdam, 2018


Over 60 haute couture pieces from the designers’ archives have been carefully selected by Loriot for the Kunsthal retrospective, including stage costumes created for ballet and operas, alongside special pieces, such as the costume created for Madonna’s 2016 Miami Art Basel fundraising concert. New works from the latest collections, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Action Dolls’ are also displayed for the first time within the retrospective.

Solidifying Viktor&Rolf’s 25 year journey to date within their home country of Holland, the retrospective features their strongest collections, marking a chapter of exceptional high couture work and achievement so rarely achieved by designers within fashion. The fact that the duo have also managed to remain as unpredictable, ground-breaking and art-driven within that timeframe, well, we cannot wait to witness the next 25 years of their creative partnership.


Getting There

Rotterdam or Amsterdam airport is only a short (less than an hour) flight from London. We flew from Heathrow to Amsterdam via British Airways and the flight only lasted a mere 45 minutes. A train shuttle will then quickly transport you across to Rotterdam with the metro system being extremely easy to navigate on arrival.



The 5 star Design hotel, Mainport is offering a Viktor & Rolf Hotel package for visitors of the Kunsthal. Upgrade your visit to the exhibition by booking the V&R hotel package, which includes a City XL room, entrance to the Kunsthal ‘Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years’, a signed catalogue of Viktor&Rolf, a poster, the champagne breakfast buffet on the relaxing riverside terrace, cocktail bar, rooftop swimming pool, gym & sauna. Mainport is ideally located at the shores of the Maas in the city centre and it’s then only a short walk or metro journey into the town centre.

Book here:
The offer is 144.50eu per night until the 30th September.


Places to Eat

Heroine Restaurant

Unique 70’s inspired decor combined with cosy fine dining.
Address: Kipstraat 12, 3011 RT Rotterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 10 310 0870


A unique concept restaurant & bar situated in a disused Swimming pool,  featuring Mexican & Latin-American cuisine. After the meal the rooftop turns into a dance party for a fun dining experience.
Address: Schiedamse Vest 91A, 3012 BG Rotterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 10 404 8070


Mediterranean food suitable for lunch, brunch, bites, dinner or drinks.
Interesting food combinations & killer cocktails.
Address: Kruisplein 153, 3014 DD Rotterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 10 254 0005

FAULT Focus: British Designer Corrie Nielsen

Unless otherwise stated, all images are by Benjamin Johnson

What kinds of people are your designs aimed at?

They’re generally aimed at all different types of women, often in the creative industry and the entertainment industry.  I’m also starting to sell to brides, so it’s a combination of different people.  I don’t want to say it’s exclusive because it’s for everybody, but it’s not really for the high street.    We do get a lot of women in the music industries that come forward.  My designs can be extravagant but there’s the ready-to-wear stuff, and then people think that’s extravagant!  I don’t like to limit myself but at the same time I like to keep my standards quite high.  I’m trying to keep it versatile.  At the end of the day you never know who’s going to come forward; you’ve got to keep it open.

 Is there anyone in particular you would like to see wearing your designs?

Oh yeah definitely, I would love to see Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Daphne Guinness…  In the music industry I’ve had Lady Gaga borrow stuff, the stylist borrowed the stuff but it didn’t get worn in the end.  Then Kim Kardashian has also been seen recently.

necklace – Cardinal of London
Shoes – Corrie Nielsen, Necklace – Stylists Own

If you could sum up your S/S 2013 ‘Florilegium’ collection in 3 words what would you say?

Kew Gardens… 3-dimensional flower… and I would say earth colour.  That’s a little more than 3, but I can’t sum it up in just 3 words!

What would you say was the main source of inspiration behind ‘Florilegium’?

It’s Latin for floral gathering basically.  It’s something I always wanted to do.  I love Kew Gardens and I wanted to experiment with nature, looking at the different plants and flowers 3-dimensionally.  It was very challenging so I had to think and look at the shape.  You have to be careful with things like that because it can be overdone.  So it has to be done in a way that is appealing to the eye.  Initially the inspiration came from the flower, palm leaves and just nature in general.  I wanted to take that and use it in the design.  I went into the Darwin archive and read about his scientific studies on the flower.  At certain times of the day its growth is affected by the sun.  It’s really fascinating.  The natural light and the way it affects the colour, the growth and the change of that plant is very interesting.  Then I was looking at Makoto Muryama’s blueprints, almost like a DNA, and it was incredible what he was doing with the flowers. 

Were there any particular flower shapes that you wanted to recreate?

Not really, I left my mind open.  I looked at colours and I looked at the inside of flowers around the stamen and the stain on the petals.  It’s amazing how nature can create that.  It goes down to shape and the delicateness of the plant and putting it all into one.


How have you maintained your signature structured styles within the collection when the nature of the concept is so feminine and serene?

Everyone was doing this draped, very simple kind of dress, garment, blouse, whatever… and for me, I like to throw in a shape to it.  I think that I’m always going to have a twist to the clothes, there is always going to be something that’s different to it as opposed to it just being straight.  And you’ll see that with all my work.  Even with the smaller A/W collection there is volume and shape to the garment because when I see things I see them 3-dimensionally.  Tailoring is very important because the garment needs to fit beautifully.  All the pieces are tailored to the body.  Every designer has a signature style, but it’s important to keep the flow because if you change it dramatically then it throws people off.



Do you have any favourite pieces from that collection?

I pretty much liked all of it, there were criticisms but you know what, in nature you get all different types of plants and flowers and it depends on personal preference.  All things that grow in nature have their own unique beauty and energy.  A lot of people liked this dress here:

Image by Sue Foll


For this blouse here I took inspiration from the mushroom.

Image by Sue Foll

If you turn a mushroom upside down, you have all those intricate beautiful pleats.  They covered it up and I wish they didn’t!

And then I love this, it’s dip-dye.

Image by Sue Foll

Talk us through the styling and make up…

It was almost like a pollen stain you know, like if you get some pollen and rub it on your arm it leaves like an orangey stain.  So that’s what we did.  Then the hair was a bit wild to keep with the nature theme.

 How have your designs and practice developed from your debut winning collection from Fashion Fringe 2010? 

I think it’s developed tremendously.  The main focus is the wearability of the garments but also the beauty of the cut as well as the fabric choice.  I think it has become more modern.

Earrings – Cardinal of London, Ring – Imogen Belfield, Shoes – Daniel Footwear

You have been referred to as Vivienne Westwood’s protégé because you worked for her for 6 years…

Yeah I know, that is so not true.  I love how people label designers, like you work for a designer then all of a sudden your stuff is exactly like theirs.  No, it’s not.  Vivienne has her aesthetic, Alexander McQueen had his aesthetic, I’ve got my own and I’ve got my own vision.  We are all very individual and have our own unique cutting skills and draping.  We all have our own unique approach as designers and dressmakers.


What other things can we expect to see from you this year?  Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

I just won a bridal show in the dress category so we are starting to look at the bridal market because it’s a huge industry.  But at the same time I’m continuing working on my business.  I am planning to do something for London Fashion Week, but I can’t reveal what I’m planning yet.  It is something different from the previous collections, so it’s moving on and progressing.  It’s getting more modern and adapting to the environment and industry, without moving away too much from what I do, keeping the same aesthetic.  That’s it so far, unless something else pops up and you never know.

Words by Joelle Thurston

Photography: Benjamin Johnson
Styling: Rivkie Baum
Make Up: Harriet Hadfield
Hair: Kazuki Fujiwara
Designer: Corrie Nielsen