An imaginary show at Het HEM, a former munitions factory outside of Amsterdam: Victor&Rolf Haute Couture SS2021

by Vésma Kontere McQuillan/ Victor&Rolf Press Office
January 28, 2021
Victor&Rolf Haute Couture SS2021 show at "Het HEM", a former munitions factory outside of Amsterdam.
While aiming to provide a lighthearted escape into fantasy, both collection and presentation also have a gritty edge. Traditionally 'beautiful' couture references are put into a raw, young context. Haute Couture meets underground party. The mood is irreverent and almost casual but always elegant: an antidote to doom scrolling.
In absence of real-time catwalk shows, for Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2021 Viktor&Rolf propose a "Couture Rave": an imaginary show inspired by parties that were and parties to come.
In keeping with the brand's adage that highlights the "power of transformation", Viktor&Rolf chose "Het HEM’", a former munitions factory outside of Amsterdam as a venue. Currently, a center for contemporary art, art collective RAAAF's permanent installation "Still Life"(2019) forms the poetic backdrop for this season's performance. Four gigantic, slowly moving heavy brass plates were crafted from the leftover source material for bullet production. As such, "Still Life" creates a link between the past, present, and future of the historically burdened heritage of the space.

Conceptual repurposing of base materials

In parallel to this conceptual repurposing of base materials, Viktor&Rolf continue to build on their upcycling Haute Couture collections of the last years. Archival materials are used, ranging from minuscule patches of vintage laces and jacquards to fragments of vintage dresses (some taken from their own previous collections) as well as sweatshirts. The outfits in this collection show incongruous combinations. As if the separate elements that constitute them were picked up from a pile haphazardly and put together in haste by a flock of party people who can't wait to go clubbing, knowing quite well they cannot, as of yet.

Silhouettes and Styling

Roughly speaking there are two silhouettes: voluminous skirts with body conscious tops and wide, loose dresses in varying lengths. Extravagant, "serious" ballgown couture skirts accentuate the waist and draw attention to the upper part of the body. Sporting dégradé ruffles, volants and voluminous tulle, they are combined with body hugging, uncovered couture 'bra' tops, heavily embroidered in metal, lace, crystals and vintage jewellery. These silhouettes are complemented by loose fitting, straight, batwing or A-line dresses, assembled from vintage sweatshirts. Cut up and pieced back together, these are studies in volume, heavily embellished with a disparate mix of materials and techniques. This season, several garments are made using vintage, 'lost and found' jewellery pieces and diamanté pins. "Anything Goes" as long as the mix is vibrant and unexpectedly elegant.

All looks are styled with Melissa/ Viktor&Rolf shoes (made from recycled plastic) in bright candy colours: heavy soled high top lace-ups. To stay securely grounded while you're temporarily floating.With this collection Viktor&Rolf felt more free than ever, motivated by a sincere desire for 2021 to become a "Feel Good Year".

Images Courtesy of Victor&Rolf/ Words Victor&Rolf Press release.

Collages by Christine Kalvik