Viktor & Rolf's audience is still trying to adjust to the Dutch duo's surprising segue into commercial clothes. After the recent 10-year retrospective of their ultra avant-garde work, the pair moved on to a new phase: producing their version of real-life fashion. Their fall show featured headgear that was still up there in the conceptual ether—antlers for some, Bambi sprouts for others—and a soundtrack that added the threat of hunters' gunfire. But underneath, all the clothes were reworkings of regular garments. As Rolf Snoeren explained, "We wanted to create a sort of fashion fairy tale. We've always loved classics and we think they are something special, which should be protected."

The walk in the woods began with a sensible loden, high-collared belted coat. It was followed by an outfit that, in its way, commented on all the ladylike silhouette-crafting that's going on in the fashion mainstream: a bolero jacket over a ribbed gray turtleneck and a wrap skirt fastened with a sparkling jewel. A camel car coat with a double collar was a reminder of the exaggerated multi-lapels the designers have piled on in former times; the device reappeared later, much watered-down, in double-fronted shirts. For all their reputation as out-there performance artists, Viktor Horsting and Snoeren are now displaying a canny knack for trend. Wide-leg pants, newly emerged this season, were in their collection, nicely done in fluid tuxedo suits. Ditto, brooches—great, big rose sprigs or slightly sinister oversized spiders were pinned to the breasts of coats or at the throat on scarves.

Perhaps all this connectedness is down to the guys' decision to get out of the house more. Like the thorough students they are, they recently embarked on a fact-finding mission to the Golden Globes to research Hollywood celebrity. The results could be seen at the end of their show, in a series of glamour gowns. Swarovksi glitter sheaths came out swathed in chiffon, emerald charmeuse goddess gowns were studded with golden jewels, and plunging black lace floated over nude linings.

Something, however, is slightly wrong with this picture—and one can never help suspecting (hoping, even) that the effect is a conscious stroke of irony. Because the last thing anyone needs to see is a pair of extraordinary talents like Horsting and Snoeren—designers who have blown our minds in the past—subsiding into something indistinguishable from normality.