— July 19, 2012 —
A mathematical guide to the key inspirations and references in designers' collections by Laura Bradley, illustrated by Tom Baxter
horticultural practice Illustrations by Tom BaxterThe imposing full moon backdrop at Viktor & Rolf's A/W12 show gave its audience a small indication of what was to come – dark, gothic and slightly sinister. Models first appeared in silhouette on a conveyor belt, stepping in and out of the shadows. A interesting display technique that drew attention to the Dutch duo's main focuses that season: contours, profiles and shape.
The collection makes for a satisfying Fashion Equation. Starting with the Full Moon, it also brings to mind portrait silhoettes and topiary. The Full Moon, a lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, is an interesting starting point. It often has sinister connotations – used in horror films and traditionally associated with temporal insomnia, insanity and various "magical phenomena" such as lycanthropy. Psychologists, however, have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on human behavior around the time of a full moon. Viktor & Rolf's collection was loaded with dark romanticism. Opening with raven haired Jamie Bochart, the show comprised looks with black velvet, a vampiric cape, loose necklines, and billowing sleeves, worn with gothic and blood red lips courtesy of Pat McGrath.
The silhoette portrait is yet another interesting reference point. The technique became popular in the mid-18th century; prior to the advent of photography, silhouette profiles cut from black card were the cheapest way of recording a person's appearance. The A/W12 collection was full of distinctive shapes that would lend themselves well to a graphic portrait silhouette – from the striking black cape to the exagerated ballgowns. Interestingly, the Dutch designer's focus on sihouette sat comfortably with the femininity and erotic nature of the collection (sheer tops exposing nipples).
The nod to topiary comes from the striking cuts used in the designs. The designer's have executed striking cut-outs before (remember those brilliant pastel ballgowns from S/S10?), and this time they sent out brilliantly executed cutaway furs which debuted half way through the collection. Their shapes, not dissimilar to the art of topiary, the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes that dates back to Roman times.
Laura Bradley is the Commissioning Editor of AnOther and published her first series of Fashion Equations in May 2008. Tom Baxter is an illustrator currently living and working in London.