Paris Fashion Week: Viktor & Rolf paint it black
Reporting from Paris -- Designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren finally brought their 7-year-old Viktor & Rolf Monsieur men's line to the runway this season, though given the small, intimate venue -- models walked past a tightly packed audience on the ground floor of their Blvd. Montmarte showroom -- the format itself was not a huge departure from the appointment-only way they've presented their menswear in the past.
But it would have been hard to truly appreciate the Fall/Winter 2010 collection's inspiration without having it shown against the backdrop of ink-splatter pattern carpeting and a fellow (up-and-coming Berlin-based singer/songwriter Ben Hamilton) perched on a bar stool in the corner crooning a soulful 9 1/2-minute version of the Rolling Stones song "Paint It Black."
So what inspired the Dutch design duo who routinely create one of the most thematically light-hearted labels on the planet?
"We just really, really like the song 'Paint it Black,' " Snoeren told me backstage after the show.
"There's something about the stubbornness of the song," Horsting added. "If you listen to it, he just keeps saying it over and over again."
Watching the collection reminded me of the words of Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel ("How much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."
There were black-overdyed dress shirts that looked as if they'd been painted to within a few inches of the collar, black trompe l'oiel glitter splatters on pant legs and models who took to the catwalk in thick black eyeglass frames and black paint streaked across their faces.
But more importantly, the palette, which only strayed from the black and gray color story on a scarf here and a dress shirt there (midnight blue, naturally), helped showcase the collection's focus on layering and texture. There was a sleeveless ribbed knit sweater with a monochromatic checked silk pocket square stuffed in the breast pocket, a shiny, black quilted puffer vest under a black leather three-quarter-length coat, and multiple collars on tuxedos, shirts and sweaters that varied in fabrication but were of the same color -- black.
The designers denied that the melancholia of the collection was inspired by anything in particular.
"The color black has always been part of what we do," Snoeren said, pointing out the black V&R wax seal logo.
"And, to us, black has always been the color of cool."
And based on the mostly monochromatic collection for Fall 2010, that's an assessment that seems likely to continue.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: At top, looks from the runway debut of Viktor & Rolf Monsieur during Paris Fashion Week on Thursday. The designers were inspired by the Rolling Stones song "Paint It Black," and did they ever. Photo credit: Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times