It's been thirteen years since Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren were on the Couture calendar. They staged their comeback tonight in honor of their label's twentieth anniversary—"there's no better way to celebrate," Rolf said, adding that it was also an effort to "divide our wearable side and our conceptual side."
High concept it was. The show was set in a mock Japanese garden, with painted raked sand and a few outcroppings of foam rocks. To start, Horsting and Snoeren walked out, sat down back-to-back, closed their eyes, and proceeded to meditate for a good five minutes. Coming as this did at the end of a week of Paris menswear and Couture shows, one photographer in the pit couldn't resist providing a soundtrack of "ohm"s. Their meditation over, the designers took their places on either side of the stage and the models began appearing.
All twenty wore the same black fabric, a technical silk that had the spongy look of neoprene, and flat ropy sandals. The first look out, a shirtdress, had strange, deflated volumes above the knees in front and below them in back. Having made her circuit, the model sat down and Snoeren pulled the hem of her dress down over her ankles. He had turned her into a rock. The process repeated nineteen times. One particularly sculptural dress was big enough to cover a model's entire supine form (its black fringe was meant to resemble grass); another tent dress cloaked not only the kneeling model wearing it but also the girl who was curled up in a fetal position next to her. After the last model was transformed and before the curtain fell, Horsting and Snoeren gave each other a bow.
Instant Zen garden. When asked about the project's genesis, Viktor said, "We've been running around for so long, we thought, let's enjoy where we are. Our current state of mind is mindfulness." The thoughtful, clever show was a credit to meditation, a brainy chaser after a week of chiffon and crystals. The best part: Conceptual didn't come at the cost of wearable. There were some great coats and dresses here; we liked look 9 in particular. The word backstage was that half of the collection has already been snapped up by a collector.