I am a huge fan of the avant garde designers Viktor & Rolf; I remember being introduced to them at an exhibit in the Museum of the City of New York (one of my favorite museums, a neglected gem in Spanish Harlem); the man’s style button-down shirt with the waterfall of collars peeling open (shown below) nearly blew my mind. I found out later that the 2003 fashion show this piece came from was inspired by the marvelously eccentric Tilda Swinton. Not only was she the muse for the collection, but in the ultimate runway presentation models were all Swintonized with red, slicked-back hair and whited-out faces with zero eye or lip color (Tilda is famous for going sans makeup, even to award ceremonies):
After that first piece, I blazed through all their collections and visited their fun website which mimics an empty mansion and rides the line between the magical feel of a fairytale castle and the eerie feel of a whodunnit mansion murder mystery a la Clue, Murder By Death, or Gosford Park. I love V&R’s oh-so postmodern take on fashion — poking fun at the ridiculous nature of it, obviously having fun with it (the fashion industry can take itself a bit too seriously, non?), and yet honoring its traditions and motifs, like classic tailoring. Repetition and exaggeration of stylistic staples is a common commentary method for V&R, but check out their other collections, because they are guaranteed to surprise and probably shock season after season.
So the news item here is that after Viktor & Rolf announced they wouldn’t be showing at Paris Fashion Week, they revealed that their spring 2009 collection will be unveiled online, a brilliant decision that both garners attention in its oddness and democratically disseminates their collection to a wider audience in less time (click here for link to NYTimes On the Runway blog commentary on democratization of fashion). Shalom Harlow (who is one of the few models I can identify by name and find to be more beautiful than grotesque) is to be only model in the show.
Now here’s what really excites me: the wonderfully cheesy musical “Funny Face” (1957) is to be the show’s theme! I happen to be a huge fan of the campy musical genre, but even if you’re not, this one is particularly wonderful if you’re interested in fashion as a) it’s a loose biography of renowned 50s fashion photographer Richard Avedon (Fred Astair plays “Dick Avery”), and b) Edith Head outdoes herself on the costumes. There are some stunning photo shoots with Audrey Hepburn in a classic role of her as an awkward, mousy, bookish beatnik abducted by a fashion editor (played by flamboyant Kay Thompson) and turned into a first class fashion model. These shoots pretty much provide an excuse to dress Audrey in many pretty frocks filmed in stunning Technicolor, but how satisfying is that??
This movie has been recently resurrected by the Gap ads of Audrey dancing in black skinny pants, another gem of a scene that is ironically used to portray her character as distinctly unfashionable.
All this is a lengthy way of saying: I’m very excited to see the marriage of one of my favorite musicals merged with one of my favorite fashion teams. To be released online October 2.