It is commonly believed that fashion is an artistic discipline, but, if you stop and ponder about it, you will probably realise it can also be interpreted from a scientific point of view. In fact it could even be compared to maths.
With this statement I’m not only referring to the fact that the point behind a collection is, ultimately, how much money it will make after it hits the shops, but also to something else.
A successful collection is indeed the result or a perfect equation, of different inputs and ideas, such as research into fabrics and materials, choice of a proper colour palette, and the balanced addition of more or less decorative elements.
In a nutshell, it is a sort of addition and subtraction practice, and it can lead a designer to layering garments one on top of the other to have maximum effect or to stripping a creation down ad much as possible to obtain a sense of understated minimalism.
Dai Fujiwara’s collection for Issey Miyake was intriguingly inspired by the theories of American professor William Thurston and in particular by his work on the hyperbolic structure of the figure eight knot complement.
Despite such an inspiration could have clearly caused desperation in many fashionistas, buyers and fashion critics, it was impossible not to realise Fujiwara developed this theme in a very coherent and cohesive way.
The designer first transformed hyperbolic geometry into multi-coloured scarves wrapped around and layered upon the models’ torso like sashes and ropes and worn with lurex trousers.
Fujiwara then proceeded to strip down the formula, sending down the runway well-structured jackets, trousers with elaborate details made with elastics that spiralled around the legs creating waving movements, pleats and folds (Thurston’s theory stating that compact 3-manifolds can be decomposed into submanifolds turned into "many folds", maybe?) and skirt suits with padded hems worn with futuristic sunglasses that seemed to be made with plastic twigs.
Miyake’s fashion house is definitely not new to "scientific" experiments: at the end of the 90s the house developed the A-POC concept, garments manufactured employing computer-controlled warp-knitting techniques.
In this case, though, Fujiwara didn't focus so much on the technicalities behind the garments, but on applying Thurston’s theories directly on his designs.
The result was a study on three-dimensional levels and surface elaboration with designs that enveloped and cocooned the body and grey or black tweed suits with silvery knitted inserts or sprinkled with glittery electric blue dots (the sort of "equation" that spells success on a runway and money on a retail level...).
The collection climaxed with the very final designs and in particular with a light organdie coat with appliquéd squares, and with Professor Thurston joining in the finale to show that fashion and science definitely go well together.
Ten years ago the design duo turned model Maggie Rizer into a Russian dolls in reverse by piling upon her over 70 kg of haute couture.
This time Viktor & Rolf appeared on the runway, decorated with industrial elements such as wheels, bolts and clogs, elements that called to mind the Glamour Factory theme of the collection, with Kristen McMenamy, her body covered up in a series of garments that transformed it into a shapeless monster.
As more models came out, the designers started undressing McMenamy and redressing the other girls.
Once McMenamy was left in a nude sequinned bodysuit, things started again, this time in reverse: each of the new garments worn by the models coming out was reapplied on McMenamy's body, that turned once again into a gigantic, over-blown robot-like figure.
The idea behind the performance was to show how one theatrical garment could be turned into something wearable just by pulling a few strings, zipping one side and unzipping another, or unfastening a ribbon.
A voluminous fur cape was therefore turned into an ample coat; a leather coat was reversed, revealing a glamorously beaded one and a tulle skirt that seemed to be a darker version of some designs from V&R's S/S 2010 was transformed into a cumbersome, armour-like ruffled cape.
The concept behind the presentation was interesting, but the performance detracted and distracted from the structure and construction of the clothes that at times didn't even manage to highlight the craftsmanship behind the collection and the duo's unbridled creativity.