United in college, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have been admiring each other’s work since long. The two best friends decided to collaborate and came up with one of the most desirable artistic fashion houses. Read our interview with the two couture designers.
Both Viktor and Rolf were 24 years old when they started their fashion business together in 1993. They met each other during their studies at the fashion department of Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in the Netherlands. The two were in the same class but did not collaborate at the time because the studies were individual. Very early during their studies, they have admired each other’s work. They then started working together for the Festival d’Hyeres, an international fashion contest in the South of France. As beginners, they both didn’t set up high expectations, “We thought our first project together was just networking opportunity, surprisingly it won three main prizes. After that we decided to continue working together under the name Viktor & Rolf.”
Their fashion house, Viktor & Rolf is known for the strong concepts and ideas. They put such concrete touch of art in each of their collections and shows. “We are fashion artists using fashion as a tool, a means of artistic expression,” they said to us. For the first five years of their journey, the two presented themselves more in an art-related context than in a fashion context. Both their collections and the show are used as a medium of self-expression; it is what makes them different from other designers and other brands. Looking at their pieces, you would see clearly how they always assure there is another purpose than just creating the look of the season.
For the two, fashion is a very strictly regulated environment which they had no clue how to function in at first. That is why art becomes very important for Viktor and Rolf, it is the heart of their work. Take a look at the details of each of their pieces; in their Fall 2016 Couture collection, Viktor & Rolf’s designs relied essentially on varying proportions of everyday base layers handwoven with leftover fabrics, boosted with swirling tulle volumes and embellished with heaps of hardware and buttons. People sometimes see their show as more of a performance concerning the way they deliver a message that’s going beyond just a trend. It is crucial that their show should have a way of telling a story regardless of how very important the clothes are. “Our show should be its own entity,” they stated.
Viktor & Rolf decided to discontinue their ready-to-wear production and focus solely on their perfume, Flowerbomb. The Dutch designers admitted that this decision was incited by artistic and creative motives. “We have always used fashion to communicate. It is our primary means of artistic expression,” but the two felt a strong need to refocus on their artistic roots and focus on what they truly love to do with enough time and peace of mind to do it. “Ready-to-wear, with its fast pace, many deadline and fierce competition, started to feel creatively restricting for us. By letting go of it, we gain more time and freedom to focus on our haute couture driven core.”
As a team with equally creative minds, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren should always manage to find balance in their artistic process. “We are best friends who work creatively as one. It is almost as if we have one shared brain. If we ever disagree, we know that the idea is not worth pursuing,” they said when we asked about their vision for the brand. They have known each other since they were both 18 years old and they use this as perk for their business, knowing that the two can pretty much read each other’s minds now. “Without a doubt, our friendship is our greatest personal achievement. Not to sound pompous, but we have the feeling that our creative energy are still very alive and fresh. We are proud of that.”
Of course it’s pretty great to be successful. But when Viktor and Rolf started out as college buddies, they didn’t have a blueprint of how they imagined their career going. On the one hand there was this ambition and conviction that they wanted to work at the highest level possible and then on the other hand a very pragmatic approach, they were aware of what they could and could not do. They just immediately assess the risks they can and cannot take. “We are lucky enough to have been able to make it into our everyday occupation. Having said that, it also just takes a lot of hard work to actually create something.”
“It is true that creativity is often underrated. When I was a kid, my violin teacher would always tell me; fame is bought with sweat.” As creative people, the two feel the need to work in a more isolated atmosphere. That’s why they choose to live in Amsterdam, where they feel secluded from the fashion world and can still choose to enter when they want to. “For us, Amsterdam is our home, away from the hectic pace of the fashion industry whilst Paris is our fashion home. We like to be away from too many distractions to be able to work,” they said to us. “We don’t need the fashion world to create. It distracts us.”