Before attending the exhibition of Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf at the National Gallery of Victoria, I had no idea what `wearable art’ was.
Having visited the exhibition I am still in the dark thanks to the term `wearable’! But then, given my conservative fashion sense and style, I could easily have missed something. Listening to the comments of those around me, it seems the younger you are the more you see the ‘wearable’ in the two designers’ creations.
The exhibition successfully achieves its aim of “exploring Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren’s conception of `wearable art’”.
It explains how the two formed their creative partnership in 1992 and follows their work ever since. Illustrating this work are more than 40 signature ensembles from the designers’ haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, drawn from their archives and museum collections in the Netherlands.
There are also 21 dolls, traditionally handmade by a Belgian doll maker, each wearing an intricately crafted miniaturised version of a key collection of the work.
The exhibition also features a video gallery of runway footage, illustrating the complexity of Viktor & Rolf’s runway shows. In addition there’s the Timepiece installation, specially commissioned for the exhibition, in which a doll appears on the runway wearing a gown from the designers’ latest couture show, Vagabonds. Her mechanical gestures are programmed to illustrate the modeling of clothes which enables photographers to capture the best shots and fashion editors to admire the cut and texture of couture gowns.
While an entry fee applies to see the exhibition, the NGV has set up the free Atelier: Viktor & Rolf for Kids, an interactive space designed especially for families. Here the fashion designers share their experimental approach to fashion and design through displays, multimedia experiences and hands-on activities.
Central to Atelier is the wedding dress Viktor & Rolf created for the royal wedding of HRH Princess Mabel and Prince Friso van Oranje-Nassau in 2004. Kids can make a fashion accessory and afterwards strike a pose in a diorama setting and have their fashion moment captured in a portrait to share with friends and family.
According to the gallery, the aim is to give kids an insight into the creative phases of the fashion industry, beginning with making in the studio and finishing with the presentation of a collection in a runway show.
Lack of time meant I could only have a quick look, but I’m planning to return with the hope of gaining a greater understanding of the appeal of wearable art!
Viktor & Rolf Fashion Artists is on at the NGV International until February 26 2017. The exhibition is one of several exhibitions on at the NGV this month. Others include David Hockney: Current, John Olsen and Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style.
Jenny Burns attended the exhibition as a guest of the NGV.