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Viktor & Rolf

Some refer to Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren as the Gilbert and George of fashion, a comparison that goes beyond their twinned, bespectacled appearance. Since Viktor & Rolf began making clothes in 1993 after graduating from the Netherlands' Arnhem Academy of Art and Design, they have endeavored to blur the line between art and fashion. The Dutch duo's runway presentations are typically high on concept, showmanship, and wit. And like all good artists they can infuriate as well as delight. A few (out of many) examples of their unusual approach: an entirely topsy-turvy show with upside-down dresses and an ear-splitting backwards soundtrack, a provocative all-black show (including the models' faces), and a presentation featuring, on a revolving turntable, a single model who was layered in look after look like a Russian doll.

Though early on they were known for wowing the fashion press but not selling a stitch, Horsting and Snoeren have since tapped into their commercial potential. They made a move from haute couture to ready-to-wear in 2000, launched a perfume called Flowerbomb (and packaged it in a grenade-shaped bottle) in 2004, drew frenzied crowds for their collaboration with fast-fashion retailer H&M in 2006, and opened a boutique on the Via Sant'Andrea in Milan. The pair joined OTB Group in 2008. "We have high ambitions," Snoeren commented to The New York Times, which also reported their plans to open five more boutiques within the next few years. Nevertheless, their penchant for surrealism hasn't diminished: Their 15-year retrospective at London's Barbican Art Gallery, called The House of Viktor & Rolf, consisted of a gigantic dollhouse populated by 55 dolls, each wearing a Viktor & Rolf look re-created in miniature.

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