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Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture SS14

Mesmerising Dutch National Ballet dancers in latex and tattoo motifs lift couture en pointe

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

Initial reaction:

Bodies poised, elevated and fetishised in latex ensembles where you couldn't figure out where skin finished and garment began. In a week where we have been constantly asking how can haute couture move forward, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren presented a fine riposte. They made latex dresses in shades of flesh and pink look printed with tromp l'oeil detailing and hand painted tattoo motifs, just as convincing as a brocade ballgown encrusted with crystals and embroidery. 

How they moved:

Behind a giant grey screen, one by one a dancer from the Dutch National Ballet company lined up, with only their latex-covered ballet shoes visible from the gap between screen and floor. 1st position, 2nd position. Then each one emerged en pointe moving around the room, circling the four mirrored columns, which created a mesmerising vision, where reflection and reality blurred together. 

How they wore it:

The mass of hair, crimped and frizzed so that the faces of the dancers were obscured, could have been seen as eerie. Instead, it gave these haughty dancers a touching vulnerability. The mood evoked was that of Deborah Turbeville's photographic subjects - soft and mysterious.  Even the palette of the latex dresses reminded you of the photographer's famous Bathhouse series. 

From Viktor Horsting:

"We wanted the show to be en pointe – literally – because we wanted something very elevated and poetic and because couture is the most elevated form of fashion. We were thinking of skin because we're launching our new perfume so we thought about intimacy so we decided to blur the border between skin and clothing."

From Rolf Snoeren:

"We wanted something very soft and romantic but with an edge but trying to make latex soft.  It was probably one of the most difficult things we ever did because the material was so challenging to work with."