Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are couture's ultimate, eclectic designer duo. In the fickle world of fashion, keeping things fresh while still on-brand can be tricky to navigate, but they seem to take it in their stride. Since the brand's formation in 1992, Viktor & Rolf has experienced an almost meteoric rise to success. Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence are included in their A-List clientele, and their decade-old scent, Flowerbomb, has a cult following. The Dutch designers are known for creating pieces that are as much closer to works of art as they are garments – with each style and print telling its own tale. The pair recently celebrated the opening of their first exhibition on our shores at the National Gallery of Victoria and the launch of their latest edition of Flowerbomb. Beauticate founder, Sigourney, had the pleasure of sitting down with the dynamic duo during their trip, where they talked inspiration, their low-maintenance approach to grooming, and why they made the decision to say goodbye to ready-to-wear.
“Rolf and I are both pretty hands on with everything we do.
Otherwise we don’t feel comfortable doing it. With the exhibition and with the fragrance, it’s the same. We need to be very involved, and we want to be very involved. Everything, up to the very last detail. When you’re stressed, it becomes stronger – the desire to be on top of everything. And when you’re less stressed it is a lot easier to just let go a bit, trust, and delegate. We don’t define who does what. It’s just an organic mix. We try not to analyse it too much. To be honest, it’s quite mysterious what’s happening between us. If we over-analyse, then the mystery disappears.
IMITATION IS THE GREATEST FORM OF FLATTERY, AFTER ALL.
We didn’t always look alike… Well, we didn’t think so.
From the start people have been asking us, who does what? Well there is no division in who does what. We do everything together. So by having the same glasses, it is a way to say to people we are one designer, or we feel like one designer. We do try to wear different styles [of clothing] though, because as soon as you do the same style, then suddenly we’re twins.
I manage stress through yoga.
When I couldn’t cope with the pressure anymore, I started doing yoga. It helps me a lot. I usually do it in a studio, and I repeat my mantra and do my daily practice. I go to the gym here and there too, as well as meditation, but ultimately yoga is my main form of exercise.
FRAGRANCE INSPIRATION FOR THE PAIR COMES FROM MORE THAN JUST THE NOTES...
For us, designing a fragrance or a collection starts the same, with the words…
…language, and the name. For a collection, we also need to understand and verbalise what the idea is. So it always starts with an idea, and putting that into words. It’s different in the sense that you have more time to create a fragrance. For a collection, there would be six months or less. And with a fragrance, there is a couple of years. It’s preparing all the elements for the industrial process that is time consuming. A fragrance also stays longer, which is great.
We wanted to create a classic with Flowerbomb….
Something completely different. We weren’t really thinking about sales, but rather to make a creative project – the same way we work on a collection or an exhibition, the thinking and the whole approach to us was the same. It’s such a thrill that it’s been a success. It goes to show that something can be creative and commercial at the same time. We wanted something with flowers that wasn’t too sweet. Femininity is not just sweet and lovely, but it also requires an oomph, an edge, and a punch.
THE CAMPAIGN SHOT TO PROMOTE THE OIL INCARNATION OF THEIR FIRST FRAGRANCE, FLOWERBOMB
CLEAN, MODERN, CHIC BRIDAL
We just launched bridal wear, which has been a labour of love.
I think we started to feel a little uneasy in the whole ready-to-wear system, and the deadlines and we just didn’t feel that was our strength. Rather, we felt in couture, that we could really make a difference. We are also launching our first EDT in April next year. Lets just say it’s the lighter sister of Flowerbomb. The notes are based around pomegranate.”
“The style in Australia is the same as Holland.
It’s quite casual. Having said that, when we had the opening I thought that all our Australian guests were beautifully dressed, which is something in Holland we don’t see. In Holland you’re always casual – even for events. My friends in Italia are [dressed up], but not the Dutch.
IT ALL STARTS WITH AN IDEA...
STEPPING AWAY FROM READY-TO-WEAR, COUTURE IS WHERE THE DESIGNERS HAVE FOCUSSED THEIR PASSION
Stopping our ready-to-wear collections has helped me to work a little bit less.
At first it was really difficult because we were in such a rhythm, but now I am starting to enjoy it. I’m a little less occupied and stressed and just trying to focus on the positive. We do couture. I love it, it’s great. We are also working hard on our fragrances, which are a big success for us. I love that too. I always have. If we would have done ready-to-wear and all these other collections, we probably would’ve been so stressed out. Now we get to come to Australia, and enjoy it more. It’s been such a pleasure working on this project.
My personal grooming routine is very simple, and basic.
I shave, but not everyday because I’m too lazy. I also go to the hairdresser a lot – sometimes once a week, or at least once every two weeks. Viktor and I go to the same hairdresser in Amsterdam. The guy who runs it use to intern for us; he went to fashion school, and was also a designer. And then he decided to become a hairdresser. I also use Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate as a moisturiser. Viktor and I get easily bored, so sometimes when we are walking down the street in New York, we might get a manicure.
THE HIGH BAR THEY SET FOR STYLE DOES NOT STOP AT DRESSING OTHER PEOPLE...
I’m the massage guy, I love it! There’s nothing better than a good massage.
I really like the Mandarin Oriental in New York. I have had one facial in my lifetime, and it was there. That was like an out of body experience. Someone’s just touching your face, in such a delicate way. In Amsterdam, I have somebody come to me at home once every few weeks. I have my own massage table.
I do Crossfit, but I am fundamentally extremely lazy.
I need to go to a class and sign up, because then I have a reason to do it. Or I will happily lie in bed all day. I try to do that four times a week. But as soon as I travel, I drop everything, and I don’t do a thing. It’s a great excuse to not work out. I used to be really obsessed about food, and also about the whole fitness routine, supplements, and no this, no that. Now I’m less strict and I just try to listen to my body. I don’t eat too much fatty stuff. I try to eat healthy, but I just don’t try to be too obsessed about it. That’s not good for me.
THE BEST USE OF SUGARY SOFT DRINKS WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO BE HEALTHY? HAUT COUTURE, OF COURSE.
THEY ARE FLUID IN THEIR APPROACH TO TRADITIONAL IDEAS OF GENDER AND FASHION
There’s not one way to dress…
…you want to be comfortable, but you don’t want to look like a slob. You want to be elegant, but you don’t want to look stuck up. It’s the same for men and women I guess. It’s funny, on Facebook there’s a little clip of Grayson Perry, and he was talking about masculinity and femininity. He said, ‘Masculinity is almost like as if there is an electric barb wire around it. The reins of men and women are not so different in the end.’ There are differences obviously, but the differences aren’t so great. It’s just the way we condition men from a young age to behave in a certain way.”
Story by Stephanie Russo; Interview by Sigourney Cantelo