The new 'less is more' couture

Shamara Mohsin shares her thoughts on the biggest and loudest show from this years Paris Fashion week...

Shamara Mohsin
11th February 2019

As January came to an end so did the annual Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week and as usual, the internet had something to say about it. While we could unpack the likes of Valentino, Dior or Elie Saab; social media found itself enthused with that of Viktor and Rolf who, yet again, did not shy away from a mass display of extravagance through a debatable look book of Avant-Garde fashion.

The designer duo is no stranger to the media buzz that follows their annual show, often playing into the worldwide phenomenon with new, even more, peculiar displays of, originality the following year. This was especially present through the mediums of the 18 dresses on display in their 2019 spring collection.

Who knew tulle could be so versatile? The fabric was used to craft the entirety of their pieces in as much as 5 miles of material, with variations from pastel pinks to sickly slime greens. The colour pallet was mixed- as were opinions on the line; many of which centred on conflicting thoughts on the choice of slogans decorating the garments. ‘No photos please’ read a pastel green A-line gown in stencil script, ‘Go to hell’ proclaimed another in black font (similar to that which you would have found in Word Art mid-2000s), adorned with a skull and set upon a sunshine yellow backdrop.

The designers found inspiration in social media; mixing the sweetness of a fairy-tale ballgown with the harshness of popular online slogans.

The tulle personifies romance, the floor-length, shapeless cut projects innocence; paired with the text ‘trust me I’m lying’ creates a tantalising juxtaposition of messages. The gowns are a false projection of the character underneath, the slogans a glimpse at their inner voice, which often differs from their outside appearance, referring back to this idea that this is a depiction of social media. This is, however, personal opinion and one extremely different from some individuals online.

The dresses were commemorated by many for the irony they instilled, the cursive text ‘less is more’ printed upon skirts upon skirts of salmon pink fabric, drowning the silhouette of the model. While a green gown wrote ‘I am my own muse’ a quote originating from the Queen of self-portraits- Frida Kahlo, which offers a more generic (to the rest of the line) profile. The generatability ensures the model stands out with her harsh, relevant proclamation, that everyone has a voice- sparking appraisal for its projection of empowerment of women; especially relevant amidst the #metoo movement.

Some spectators felt the collection was predictable- that the line was a result of cultural manipulation. They felt the bold word document fonts inadvertently cheapened the dresses. In other words, the double meaning of the design took away from the beauty beneath they wished to inspire.

The collection has stayed in the publics memory and a multitude of memes have transpired as a result of the ostentatious ensemble; this left many individuals feeling the attire was made with the intentions of sparking a trend. Therefore, does a meme trend define success for designers nowadays? Those thigh-high UGG boots that divided the internet in 2018 suggest there’s some truth to this.  Which opens debate on how much trends and real-world problems affect a designer’s collection.

However, as many have given similar testaments, the dresses do project relatable moods and allow a sense of comradery that sort of, in some weird fantastical way, makes you wish you were cool enough to wear a Viktor and Rolf design. There is also something in the bold design that makes you think it might be a good choice if you were attending a Camp themed fashion event… While personal taste will either leave you loving or hating the line- chances are it made you look twice, and these days, within the generation of social media, that’s a big ask.

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