EXCLUSIVE: Katie Shillingford's Viktor & Rolf Diary

Dazed's Senior Fashion Editor recalls the stressful days leading up to Viktor & Rolf's A/W12 Paris show

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As soon as Gareth Pugh’s show was finished I had to rush off to the Viktor & Rolf Showroom to begin the prep for fittings. I met with Andrew Weir, who casts the show, and we went through the girls’ options and quickly ironed out any issues. Often this is about the girls we have to share with the show before which is Haider Ackermann, so we have to come up with a good game plan. In terms of casting it was a very different direction for Viktor & Rolf this season; it was very much celebrating the new girls, the great new characters of the season. We were imagining the girls taking a moonlit walk through the woods, it’s always important for girls in the show to be super strong to carry the clothes but this time they were a little bit younger and fresher. It was exciting to have Jamie Bochert in the show (opening) and I think she really set the mood.

In terms of casting it was a very different direction for Viktor & Rolf this season; it was very much celebrating the new girls, the great new characters of the season

The next day was jam packed with not only the hair test and make up test separately (as Luigi and Pat are so hectic, we have to grab them when we can!) but I managed to fit 23 girls in one day too - it was a little hectic to say the least! Although the hair and make-up tests were carried out separately they both went well and we were incredibility happy with the dark, sexual but still very glamorous and sophisticated look. We were thinking about Victorians but the Helmut Newton woman at the same time.

On Friday, the day before the show, we only had a further seven girls to fit and then second fittings for a few of the girls wearing the ‘specials’ (these are the looks that are extra special/couture pieces that only the atelier team work on and touch). The girls wearing the fur coats were the ones to come back - to cut the fur with accurate precision whilst they wore the coats, standing up in heels. Another task that day was to work on explaining the set and performance element to the girls and work on a pose that they would hold whilst being silhouetted on the background. It was a slightly worrying time as no one was sure if it would definitely work! Natalie, who has been working with Viktor & Rolf for years on choreography, worked with the girls on this liaising with me so that we got the best out of an outfit. The idea was for the girls to step onto a conveyor belt at one side of the stage, travel to the other side of the stage holding a pose and then walk down the winding path of the catwalk. Above the catwalk was a glowing moon that appeared to be silhouetting the girls. We were all praying it was going to work!

The slow pace, soft instrumental music with spoken word and moonlit set did make it an emotional and overwhelming experience

The following day it was show time! We had to bring the girls directly to the catwalk before hair and make-up to make sure they had a practice on the conveyor belt, holding their pose in their shoes. It was crucial everyone did this, even though they’re super strong walkers, getting used to being poised on a conveyor belt is not the same. All the girls coming from Haider Ackermann rushed in straight after the show and had to get their hair washed as it had been coloured for that show - thanks god we knew this in advance because I spoke to Eugene’s team. Despite all these complications, miraculously everything went according to plan, all girls hair washed and everyone practised and the actual show went very well.

The lovely Marte (who I’ve shot a couple of times for Dazed and who was a Viktor & Rolf fitting model when she first started modelling) came off the runway very tearful. I thought, 'oh no, she fell over'  but when I asked her she said she it was tears of joy... she was just so happy to be part of such a beautiful show. The slow pace, soft instrumental music with spoken word and moonlit set did make it an emotional and overwhelming experience. I would like to think that it did affect people in this way - for me that’s what a fashion show should do!

Read Katie Shillingford's Gareth Pugh Diary HERE

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