Of all the fashion shows I watch annually in February and September, be they in NY, Paris, Milan and London, roughly 80% don’t leave a lasting impression. I know, my bar is set high. Not only should the clothes dazzle me and send me into a Pinterest tizzy, but the shows’ themes and styling should pump my adrenaline.
One show that has the elements I crave, is that of Dutch duo, Viktor & Rolf. I have been watching their runway shows for over 20 years without fail. They have created and cultivated avant-garde, highly conceptual fashion, menswear and bridal collections, which border on wearable art. To the average person, their garments might seem unwearable and test the limits of wearable art. Therein lies their genius and vision.
After decades of success, they decided to halt their ready to wear collection in 2015 and focus on their couture, made to order brand.
Their Fall 2017 couture show in July was one which I had on constant rewind and repeat since I have always had a soft spot for flight jackets and Doc Marten shoes. After all, those two items, very dear to me, were staples in my art college uniform. The runway presentation went beyond the garments and I was mesmerized by the theatrics and props. Viktor & Rolf created gigantic, custom made felt doll heads worn by the models. I was besotted immediately! This was such a welcome respite from the irritating blank stare of models as they trot down the runways.
The inspiration? To quote Rolf Snoeren: ‘We thought reality is so weird at the moment, why not show the surreal side of reality.’ I concur, but need to add that as early as my childhood I thought “Holy shit! Reality really sucks. What can I do to make myself laugh?” One way, of course, is to put my own sartorial spin into a DIY project with my BFF and accomplished artist, Mini.
I emailed Mini images from the show which instantly made her giddy. We LIVE to dive into creative projects that combine bat shit hilarity and theatrics. Mini’s head was spinning with ideas on how to design and create our unique version of the felt doll heads.
Viktor & Rolf’s heads gave us a eery reminder of the paper-mâché mask worn by ‘Frank’, one of the characters in the 2014 dark comedy film, “Frank.”
We were unsure how to approach this arts and craft project until Mini visited her go-to source, TJ Maxx and Michael’s.
Mini wasn’t 100% convinced a cat bed-head was the ultimate option, so she explored further. She decided to inflate a 20” beach ball, apply strips of colored scrap booking paper dipped in mod podge and added a little water around the ball. She let it dry overnight, cut out the bottom and removed the ball. And….PRESTO, we have ourselves a blank head.
But wait, Mini wasn’t satisfied. She wouldn’t be completely fulfilled unless she gave paper mâché a whirl. So she got to work using shreds of newspaper with glue, let them dry overnight and then removed the ball.
So where did I fit into this DIY project? Dolls need hair, eyes, sometimes a nose and mouth. One Saturday night, Mini drove up north in her Mini Cooper, stuffed like a clown car, with boxes galore overflowing with every possible thing from a crafts store.
After she unloaded all the contents from those boxes on my dining table, we got to work.
After spending two Saturday nights reworking our doll head masterpieces we had to photograph them in different settings.
The girl has some skills.
At the end of all of our DIY sessions, we asked each other: “OK, so I feel like I am going to die from laughter. I am not sure I can look through all the photos because I just don’t have the energy to laugh anymore. How are we going to top this insanity in our next project?”
We never know what lies ahead in life. With non-stop media bombarding us with negativity, terror and scandals, I am thankful for my fellow creative friends who share my sense of humor. I am grateful for the injection of inspiration that challenges and excites me into feeling positive. Engaging in the creative process is most uplifting. This time, the inspiration and the impetus to create came from two Dutch men with a design studio in Amsterdam. Thanks, Messrs. Flower Bomb!