When we heard that Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, the dynamic design duo behind Viktor & Rolf, were launching a wedding dress collection set to debut during Bridal Fashion Week, we believe the word "insane" was thrown around. These are the two who are responsible for dreaming up the craziest, boundary-pushing designs for couture (like, three-dimensional Picasso-inspired masterpieces or dresses constructed from scraps of fabric). We braced ourselves for Viktor & Rolf insanity and found their "Mariage" bridal collection to boast the same extraordinary attention to detail and superior level of craftsmanship but also, surprisingly, an aesthetic that was remarkably restrained.
"With couture, it's a laboratory for experimentation where we like to push the limits," Horsting tells us a day prior to the bridal collection preview. "It's similar in that we focus on shape and silhouette, but with wedding dresses, we wanted to focus on the sculptural elements of our work with a surreal twist, which you don't see very much. There's room for our take on wedding dresses."
Their vision involves structure, achieved through compact technical crepe fabrics and substantial shapes, with intricate embroideries intended to deliver a bold, graphic impact. Three-dimensional floral appliqués (some studded with Swarovski crystals) cascade down a strapless ball gown (aka their signature Flowerbomb in wedding dress form), precise bows line the spine of another, and an explosion of exquisite beadwork decorate mod shifts. Most interesting is the "surreal twist" on their designs, which can be found through unexpected asymmetry, like a diagonal hemline of a sweeping tulle skirt (a personal favorite of Horsting's) or the ruffles on a taffeta gown.
"We started with something very pure with a strong focus on shapes," Snoeren says, likening themselves to sculptors working with marble. "What attracts us to wedding dresses is the fact that they're unique. It's this one-time occasion in your life; it's a dress that you wear once."
In that sense, it's very much like couture, Horsting says. The pair spent a year or two perfecting their designs: playing up volume without the heaviness, pinpointing and color-coordinating in the right white ("You think white is white, but there are so many shades of white," Horsting marvels), and bringing new ideas to life, like structured jumpsuits or a beaded gown with a hemline that zips off.
"We want to stay close to what we proposed here, which is something that is sculptural, with a new play on volume and embroidery," Snoeren says when asked about their plans for future wedding dress designs. "It’s always about trying to achieve glamour without being tacky."
And will they launch accessories next? Perhaps, shoes? "At the moment, no," Horsting says. "But who knows?"
Click through to see the Viktor & Rolf fall 2017 wedding dress collection and all the other stunning looks from Bridal Fashion Week.