Head to the throngs outside the fashion week shows and both girls and boys are loving a good old fashioned crisp white shirt or just the peek of a pressed shirt collar poking out of anything. It's therefore hard to read Viktor & Rolf's latest collection as anything but a dramatic reaction to a dress sensibility that has been seeping in for the past few seasons. In a build up motion, the Dutch duo teased and pulled every nuance out of a white shirt possible. A banker stripe shirt was played into a broad shouldered baby doll tunic that had three shirts layered into one and frayed with satin ribbons as the stripe replacement. The collar on a shirt became wide and extended in an off shoulder puffball dress that again referenced the office stripe. Simpler pieces tweaked proportions so that shirts dresses fell off shoulder and cuffs were enlarged in a distorted take on the boyfriend shirt. When it was not about shirt-play, the duo worked with half and half in a prom dress meets suiting combo, where a deliberately sheeny shiny satin in aquamarine was clashing it up with wool suiting. It all came down to the purest bridal whites.
The frayed edges from earlier on stopped here as it became about sculpting curves into white shirt cocoons in silk satin, and adding and reducing volume at will until you got to a trailing shirt that was cut short in the front to reveal a pair of cigarette trousers which signified an alluring fusing of bride and groom. Then the surreal qualities that people have come to expect from V&R were blown out into mantua dresses constructed out of giant shirt cuffs jutting out in all different directions on the sleeves with stiff layers of different textures of white forming the catwalk-wide skirt. It all seemed like both a celebration of this enduring garment as well as a desire to change the context of it - to make it not just something that is not just "a boring white shirt", whilst retaining its crisp qualities. "We wanted something crisp, fresh, polished and graphic. The mens shirt is not ladylike so that was the starting point - taking something that's not ladylike and making it so," explains both Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren and consecrates perhaps a fresh take on the dialogue between masculine and feminine, as well as proposing shirt alternatives a-plenty.