Viktor & Rolf Fall 2021 Couture Collection is a Cheeky Take on Royalty in the 21st Century
Despite the worldwide show of gasping and pearl clutching that accompanied it, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s break with the Royal Family was not exactly without precedent. Indeed, as recently as 1936 – and being an event much more monumental in its cultural relevance – King Edward VIII abdicated the crown in favor of marrying the distinctly untitled Wallis Simpson.
But regardless of Prince William and Duchess Kate publicly presenting the very essence of imperial dignity and discretion, there’s little doubt that a royal reassessment is in order in these 21st Century, persistent-airing-of-dirty-family-laundry times. And for their Fall 2021 Haute Couture collection, that ever so provocative Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf have made some rather cheeky nods to the familiar aesthetic signifiers of the ruling classes.
Fittingly, it was all presented in Paris at the Chapelle Expiatoire, a chapel dating to 1816 and built in an imposing neoclassical style – which also just happens to be the burial place of Louis XVI and Marie Antionette. The presentation was also notably produced by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, who curated the 2018 exhibition Viktor & Rolf Fashion Artists 25 Years, at the Kunsthal Rotterdam – so he was surely the perfect conspirator.
For conceptual purposes, each silhouette consisted of a dress, a coat and a sash, the latter printed with snarky commentary like “Don’t be a Drag, just be a Queen,” and “Royal Pain in the Ass.” Even traditional gender roles were addressed, with the “King” crossed out of the familiar phrase “Live like a King,” and replaced with “Queen.” The Crown Jewels naturally got a send up, and “furs,” once the very epitome of sartorial extravagance, were actually cut from man made shag and raffia fiber.
“We wanted an almost comic-strip feel to the collection,” admits Rolf Snoeren, “by being very respectful toward materials and couture, referencing its shapes and techniques on the one hand, while on the other hand, taking elements from completely different worlds and mixing them together.”
It should be noted, however, that amidst all the incisive irreverence, the absolutely gorgeous clothes were fit for queen, countess and commoner alike.