In their Haute Couture A/W 2016-17 collection Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren savaged and repurposed scraps of designs from their previous collections and recombined them together to create new garments. The duo continued along the conscious couture thread for the S/S 17 season, adding a twist to their exercises in repurposing garments and recollaging creations by other designers and decades as well.
The shifts, cocktail dresses, pants and evening gowns on the runway were indeed made by recombining together sectioned pieces borrowed from vintage dresses from the '40s, but also iconic designs by Courrèges, such as a salmon dress that, disassembled into multiple parts, was scattered and reincorporated as a pocket or a piece of a bustier in two different designs.
Fashion collectors shouldn't cry about the loss of these vintage garments since, according to the designers, most of these pieces were too damaged to be valuable. So this was a way for V&R to elevate their imperfections to high fashion.
The patches scattered on the designs were then encircled by a golden thread that was at times reworked as embroidery or braided and crocheted around the patches. This feature was inspired by the art of kintsugi.
As seen in a previous post, the kintsugi and kintsukuroi techniques - meaning "to patch with gold" and "to repair with gold" - consist in methods to fix pottery.
Kintsugi probably originated when Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the late 15th century and wasn't satisfied with the final outcome as the piece was stitched back together with metal grafts.
Japanese craftsmen therefore started looking for a new solution that would have made broken pieces more aesthetically pleasing. Cracks were then repaired with a gold or silver lacquer, materials that radically transformed them into something even more beautiful.
As seen in that previous post (maybe V&R have been reading us…), the same technique can be successfully employed also in fashion to emphasise patches and textile scars and give a new life to an old garment.
The main aim of this collection was the same, but the designers also wanted to evoke through the fragments of fabrics employed the life of the people who originally donned these dresses. The fragments became therefore tangible testaments of previous lives.
Though the title of the collection - "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - sounded negative, it was actually a positive encouragement to put back together the pieces of the chaotic puzzles of the past and look at the cracks in our lives in an optimistic way.
Quite often the bits and pieces of deconstructed and reconstructed designs in all sorts of colours, materials and surface elaborations and patterns (from flowery motifs to glamorous lamé or brocades), were swallowed in cascades of dégradé frothy and frilly tulle or solid masses of tulle configurations forming wings and asymmetrical planes, a trick that was strongly reminiscent of the shapes and silhouettes in V&R's S/S 2010 collection. The designs - maybe less original in some cases than the A/W 16 pieces and less arty than the dresses in their S/S 16 collection - were matched with shoes customized by Christian Louboutin.
If you feel like Cinderella and have an archivist's heart, this collection may be for you, but - you're warned - these dresses, shirts and pants are upcycled couture designs and have a couture price as well (especially the ballgowns, reinventions of the S/S 10 ballgowns with fragments of fabrics shattered, scattered and reconfigured on a full layered skirt made with 100 metres of tulle...). Three of these pieces are already available online (welcome to the "see now buy now Haute Couture" fad...) for €20,000 each. But you can still opt for this trend without going bankrupt by engaging in your own kintsugi exercises as suggested in a previous post.