Is Fashion Art? This Is What Happens When 2 Designers Took That Idea To The Limit


If there’s any difference between “clothes” and “fashion,” it’s that the latter can double as art. Fashion is imaginative, emotional, and evocative of things much larger than just “I am covering my body.” On one side of the spectrum are mainstream retail trends — clothes you can easily buy that help you say something about who you are that day. On the other side is haute couture — a veritable playground for designers with the means to create garments that are much more about fantasy than function.

Designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren of Viktor&Rolf decided to explore the very, very far end of that clothes-art continuum by shutting down their eponymous ready-to-wear label last season to focus solely on haute couture. The result was a literal take on the idea that fashion can be art, using gold-painted frames, white canvases, and “paint splotches” that were — according to the show notes — created by “a complex layering of laser-cut jacquards, embroideries, and appliqués.” The duo further extended the idea by turning their final bow into performance art itself, manipulating the items worn by the models to transform them into sculpture-like paintings, which they then hung on a white wall.

You may ask who, besides Lady Gaga, a Viktor&Rolf fan, would wear this stuff? Well, in this case, that isn’t even the point — and you wouldn't be able to buy even the very wearable chambray artist’s smocks if you wanted to. The entire collection was purchased by art collector Han Nefkens to be donated to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which may indicate what the ultimate answer to the question posed here is.

In our latest collaboration video with Visionaire, we give you an insider's look at all the skill and care that went into this couture collection, and let you decide for yourself whether haute couture and high art are one and the same.

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