Where would Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren be without their dolls? Dolls have inspired so much of their work as fashion designers that it would probably be sheer bliss for someone like Sigmund Freud to untangle the skeins that link them with Viktor & Rolf's concept of womanhood. But he'd never be able to accuse the duo of a lack of self-awareness. Yes, their new collection was inspired by dolls—this time, the porcelain-faced Victorian variety—but it was also inspired by Freud, who famously described the sexual life of an adult woman as "a dark continent." It was precisely that secretive quality that sucked in the designers.
"There's such a lack of mystery in fashion now," said Snoeren. "This is our reaction to vulgarity. We imagined a modern Victorian woman, discreet, moody, rich, and luxurious." From a business standpoint, that kind of studied, dressy oddness is what they feel their customers look to them for. From a creative angle, it gave the designers carte blanche to engage in one of their favorite pursuits: toying with silhouettes. They exploded and stretched and puffed and shrunk and draped. They fringed and ruffled, too. The result looked here and there like The-Magnificent-Ambersons-Going-Dutch, especially when velvet gigot sleeves and a cape of shaved rabbit fur put in an appearance. A print of Victorian ladies could have been mug shots of Freud's patients—or Jack the Ripper's victims. And Viktor & Rolf Soir, the duo's new eveningwear capsule collection, was also very much in the full-moon, funereal vein that was so accurately captured in the lookbook.
Still, Snoeren insisted that what they stand for as designers is "unexpected elegance," and there were enough instances of that with these clothes that you can see why they keep showing up on red carpets. A padded gazar waistcoat stays in the mind. And something else Freud might have to concede—there's always a kernel of humor somewhere with Viktor & Rolf. The Victorian buttoned boot came with a dominatrix heel. Roll on, full moon.