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Monday, August 31, 2009

Last Hurrah

If one is going to introduce the hideous notion of the end of summer, best to do it with a musical romp and perfume wafts. Over the weekend, Rufus Wainwright and Norah Jones—along with Rufus' sister Martha Wainwright, who belted out material from her new CD of Edith Piaf songs—did just that with Last Song of Summer, an intimate concert in Bridgehampton, sponsored by Viktor & Rolf Parfums...

Rufus Wainwright / Martha Wainwright

Norah Jones / Artist Lisa de Kooning & Russian performance artist Andrey Bartenev

Anjelica Huston / Isabella Rossellini & daughter Elettra Wiedemann

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Our Favorite Things...

about Viktor & Rolf's new Eau Mega fragrance (omega, get it?), as explained to us by top brass from International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) at a press thingy in the penthouse of the Cooper Square Hotel earlier this week. Naturally, V&R themselves couldn't make it as they're too busy with their spring collection just around the corner (but they did make a cute video for us, complete with suits and faux instructional-style delivery)...

  • Viktor & Rolf see the Eau Mega girl as a super-heroine, able to "megafy" the world and "transform reality into her own universe of beauty and glamour."

  • The campaign image, Raquel Zimmerman shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, is based on an old 80's ad that the duo found online of a woman standing over a city and owning it, but not in that power-80's way.

  • The spritzer is activated by squeezing the big V&R golden seal—or "megamizer," designed by Fabien Baron—while the nozzle is just for show. Apparently that technology took two years to develop.

  • This is taken straight from the press material: "We dreamt of an essence that could express a new feminine freshness. 'Eau' in French has a slightly surreal connotation for those who can read between the lines."

  • The juice itself represents the duality of the V&R brand as a whole, i.e. edgy luxury, a mix of floral-fruity (think violet, basil, pear) and rich-creamy (think sandalwood, cashmere, white musk).

  • Like Flowerbomb, Eau Mega is going to be a major entry in the fragrance market—just as the name suggests—when it launches in October.

  • Macaroons are delicious to eat any time of the day.

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    Friday, May 8, 2009

    Stage Bedfellows

    Viktor & Rolf know a few things about putting on a show (recall the all-Shalom virtual runway experience for spring 09, the models made to look like statuary for fall 09, or any of untold theatrics over the years). Now, after catching the stage bug designing costumes for a Robert Wilson production in 2004, the duo is once again lending their dramatic flair to the avant-garde director-playwright's staging of Carl Maria von Weber's romantic opera “Der Freischutz” (The Freeshooter) on May 30 and June 1 at Germany's largest and most famed opera house, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.

    We saw some early snaps of the fairytale-like outfits, and let's just say they’re classic over-the-top V&R. Some performers will be enveloped in what amounts to a huge bouquet of silk and satin flowers tied with a giant ribbon, while others will appear as lightning bolts, festooned in red and orange Swarovski crystals, of which almost a million are used in total. Apparently there are dirndls and lederhosen in the mix, too. If only Shalom could have smuggled them into the Met Ball.

    —Katie Hintz

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    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Final Thoughts

    Style correspondent PLAY rounds up Paris Fashion Week...

    The Mood
    So yes, Paris had to tighten its belt in this nasty economic climate, which meant more presentations and fewer runway shows. But naturellement, everyone pretended they weren't personally affected. And actually, the reality for the average fashion editor is akin to Franz Kafka’s diary entry from August 2, 1914: "Germany declares war on Russia. Afternoon: swimming lessons."

    Tweet a Trend
    Like anyone else, I want to know what's new. But I never thought I'd be turning to my cell phone to read pedestrian chit-chat on Twitter. This was a case of the early bird getting the trend. In fact, the trend this season was Twitter.

    Celebrity Fatigue
    I first spotted Kanye West and entourage gatecrashing their way into Viktor & Rolf. It turned out Kanye was causing havoc everywhere. He was the new Bruno. Meanwhile, at Chanel, I almost got crushed by paparazzi surrounding Lily Allen, before swarming around Kate Moss in the front row. It left me wondering how more celebs don't end up train wrecks like Amy Winehouse.

    Queen Beth
    But the celebrity had to be Love cover star Beth Ditto, as if following the season's unofficial motto: It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Apparently her mission was to show the outside world that the old cliché of fashion being a gated community for diet-obsessed, humor-free folks is out of touch. Ditto's finest moment was performing with her band The Gossip at the Fendi party. I wanted to tweet: "OMGOMG!!! ditto does britney! nipplegate any sec!!"

    She's Got the Look
    Sometimes the best way to see where fashion is going is to follow a fashion editor. Based on my stalking of Carine Roitfeld, Emmanuelle Alt and Anna Piaggi, you should think preppy, mix decades (i.e. 40s and 80s for a Casablanca-meets-Top Gun look), don double-breasted blazers (like Stella McCartney's), throw on a biker jacket and, I’m afraid to say, slip into harem pants. Key colors? Black, greige and noir tobacco, which is taking over for camel, now considered not crisis-appropriate—put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Anna Piaggi (©PLAY)

    Big Top
    If designers have their say this fall, we'll be wearing plastic bags over our heads (Hussein Chalayan), bunny ears (Louis Vuitton), S&M masks (Jean Paul Gaultier) and Leigh Bowery sex-doll lips (Alexander McQueen).

    Power Failure
    As an early-adopter of Maison Martin Margiela's leather leggings and 80s' shoulders for fall 08, I'm all for power looks. But after witnessing editor after editor working huge shoulders and oh-so-fierce platforms, I got over it fast. It felt like Art Basel last year, when I counted 20 Louis Vuitton Richard Prince bags in under two hours.

    Fur Alarm
    What the heck was the idea behind the over-presence of statement fur? Was it to prove one’s immunity to chilly economic winds? Only very few got it right, like Carine Roitfeld, who strode across Tuileries park looking fit to squash the squeeze.

    Carine Roitfeld (©PLAY)

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    Monday, March 9, 2009

    Backstage Beauty

    ...at Paris Fashion Week. Photos by Sonny Vandevelde...

    Jean Paul Gaultier

    Sonia Rykiel

    Viktor & Rolf

    Bernhard Willhelm

    Jeremy Scott

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    Greed Expectations

    It's tough to beat a front row that includes Salma Hayek, Thandie Newton and an enthusiastic Beatle. Stella McCartney's early morning show was a star-studded event, and the range of hits were sure to keep 'em coming. Her manned-up blazers with thigh-high leather boots were a fashiony take on corporate greed, 80s-style. But the British designer also showed slinky lingerie-inspired dresses edged with lace, and there were always the skintight bodysuits and clingy knit dresses.

    Stella McCartney

    Giambattista Valli was less about Lycra and more about luxury. Who else but old money can afford peacock-feather skirts and richly patterned silks these days? Necklines ran high and hemlines low. Suddenly, all those leathered-up and sequined rocker-chic looks of the season seemed downright flimsy. The collection was serious fashion for the seriously invested.

    Give them a pinch on the cheeks, Viktor & Rolf's white-faced girls looked like mannequins who had come to life. The designers flitted between geometric triangles, curtain-like ruching and curvilinear sculpting on shoulders and skirts. There were no pillows attached to the models' heads or the word NO popping out of trench coats, but after six days of shows, the crazy was just crazy enough.

    Viktor & Rolf

    —Bee-Shyuan Chang

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    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Let Your Eyes Do the Talking

    Really, what's the point of false eyelashes that are meant to look natural? All that time, patience and theatricality wasted on subtlety? No. Give me a tiara of hair for my eyelids, something fantastical, surreal and too expensive for your run-of-the-mill drag queen in a slime-green bob. Give me a set of Viktor & Rolf’s new babies, any of the three styles, all made for Shu Uemura. Swirl is a thick and luscious pair that nearly looks like a second hairstyle, calling to mind the elegant, elongated swoop of a pheasant’s tail. Wing looks like Dadaist paperclips, or the loopy fringe on the hand towels in a cheesecake starlet’s powder room. Rhombus—the arty version of the junkiest drugstore lashes that give an altogether too-alert and unnatural appearance—reveal a gold embossed harlequin pattern only visible when demurely lower your eyes. Inspired by Marcel Marceau, the recently deceased French mime, they make it so you don't have to say a word to get your point across. $170 per pair, at colette.

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    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Viktor & Rolf Play with Dolls

    Dean Mayo Davies gets an early peek...

    Their fall 2008 catwalk show protested "No!" but we say “Yes!” to Viktor & Rolf. And so does London’s Barbican, where a retrospective of the Dutch duo's work opens tomorrow. The House of Viktor & Rolf—curated by Jane Alison and designed by Dutch architect and art historian Siebe Tettero, who also designed the infamous upside-down Viktor & Rolf shop in Milan—charts fifteen years of the fashion world's Gilbert & George, the first time an exhibition has been devoted to the pair in the UK.

    Instead of the standard gallery show with clothes positioned vacuously on lifeless mannequins, V&R have remade everything in miniature, showcasing their greatest hits on two-foot-tall dolls—part pageant, part Bride of Chucky. Highlights include pieces from their Atomic Bomb collection (1998-1999), in all its mushroom-cloud provocation, and Russian Doll (1999–2000), in which they dressed Maggie Rizer layer by layer until she was left gasping underneath 70 kilos of couture—a work of performance art as much as it was a spectacular fashion show. Yet the holy grail for hardcore fans are pieces from 1996’s infamous Launch collection, as well as the notorious fake perfume and a mock ad campaign.

    Having worked together since their graduation from Arnhem Academy in 1992, Viktor & Rolf's journey has been a beguiling, bewitching one. Their haute couture collection in January 1998, when they hijacked the Paris fashion calendar, evolved over the next four seasons into a ready-to-wear collection based entirely on cornea-popping cut-ups of the American flag. For those who feared production would strip away their sheen, the answer was immediate: success need not mean selling out.

    With the benefit of hindsight, their oblique yet charming concepts seem to come naturally to them, even in recent shows, most notably fall 2007, in which each model wore her own personal lighting rig with speakers. This is how Viktor & Rolf roll. Their idiosyncratic vision goes a long way in explaining an H&M collection, two fragrances and that upside-down boutique in Milan’s golden quadrangle. No ticking of boxes here. Now, Horsting (Viktor) and Snoeren (Rolf) have warped the exhibition template.

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