On the never ending quest to answer the increasingly trite question of whether fashion can assume the position of an art-form is to determine whether it should hang on a wall or pass as wearable clothing. A concept that Viktor & Rolf recently complicated by suggesting that the answer could potentially be both, bringing a whole new dimension to “fashion ambiguity”.
All of this unfolded during an exhibition (Wearable Art) at Palais de Tokyo. In a preview, they demonstrated the before and after of their fashion folly—how the integration of hinged frames on coats, dresses, and capes could ‘transform’ the designs from mere outfits into intricate artworks, from portrait collars to abstracted portraits.
While most of their peers have refrained from this level of artist appellation (probably fearing being labeled conformists), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren seem continuously aroused by exploring how formalism and absurdity combine to produce something many may call unquestionably artistic.
The point, according to the designers, was to express action painting in a casual way rather than trying to get the audience to identify with their interpretation of Jan Asselijn’s ‘The threatened Swan’. And without a doubt, the imagery of a hand protruding from warped canvas, a dress mashed through a frame, or a tableau made their conceptual perfectionism worthy of its own movement.
Renowned art collector Han Nefkens pledged to purchase the collection, which he will donate to a Museum. Except that on display, the work can no longer be worn: It becomes art for art’s sake. And as such, when the time comes, it will sell for more.