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Visit Viktor & Rolf!

April 29 October 8

What is it like to watch a fashion show in a museum? Come to Shekou Sea World Culture and Arts Center to find out.

A five-month-long fashion feast provided by Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf at its first Asian exhibition will open Friday at the venue in collaboration with the Design Society.

Gifs and photos courtesy of the exhibition organizers

Curated by Chinese fashion curator Pooky Lee and designed by French designer Nathalie Crinière, the exhibition titled “Viktor & Rolf: MetaFashion!” features 80 iconic haute couture and ready-to-wear collections by the team of Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, photographic works by Arthur Elgort, Greg Kadel and Ellen von Unwerth, and 24 sets of miniature fashion dolls wearing iconic looks from the brand.

A scene at the exhibition.

The title of the exhibition, “MetaFashion,” is taken from a December 1995 Artforum magazine review by Olivier Zahm, in which he wrote: “[Viktor & Rolf’s] fashion, or better ‘metafashion,’ amounts to a conceptual exercise in ‘reconstruction.’”

The duo is known for a mingling of fashion and art as they’ve been presenting collections of wearable art. In their hands, a dress transforms into an artwork and a runway show into a visual art feast.

Growing up in the suburbia of the Netherlands, Horsting and Snoeren said their first notion about fashion came from watching the unforgettable commercials for perfumes, where the image of the models gave them the impression of mystic beauty. “We were enthralled by the sense of mystery and dreamy escape fashion provided to our suburban lives. This sense of mystery shaped our notion of fashion and remains an important touchstone in our work.”

Unlike the other local museums and galleries that focus on traditional fine art or contemporary art, Design Society has always focused on design works, and fashion design is an indispensable part of modern design, said its director Zhao Rong.

“We are also aware of Shenzhen’s efforts in building a strong fashion industry,” she said.

But primarily, the choice of introducing Viktor & Rolf to Shenzhen arises from the aspiration to bring a new dimension and understanding about clothing and fashion to the local audience.

Zhao hopes her audience will be inspired and their curiosity aroused and satisfied.

The “Immaculate” collection.

“The 1990s is historically the golden age of the fashion avant-garde, and Viktor & Rolf is certainly an icon from the era. Their haute couture collections from the late 1990s to the 2000s, including the ‘Russian Dolls’ and ‘Bells’ collections, expanded our understanding of tradition, garments, and the body, and stirred up people’s imaginations. I admire their ability to continue this creative energy, subtly countering trends, departing from the rules in deconstruction and reorganization, while consistently returning to the essentials,” she said.

Unlike the other fashion designers, Horsting and Snoeren have always created their garments starting with a concept. For example, their latest works reflect their hope for warmth and love in a time saddened by the COVID pandemic, featuring repetitions of little pink and scarlet heart-shaped ornaments on a white coat.

The “Van Gogh Girls” collection

Highlights of the exhibition, which is presented in seven sections, include garments from “Van Gogh Girls” (its spring/summer 2015 haute couture collection inspired by the raw energy of Vincent van Gogh’s exuberant depiction of the rural countryside), “Fashion Statements” (slogan-themed gowns from the spring/summer 2019 haute couture collection), and the sustainability-minded “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Surreal Satin” collections. 

Near the entrance of the exhibition, in the first section titled “the Iconic,” the audience will see the iconic pieces from the duo’s first 25 years refreshed into a total white collection, ornamented with Swarovski crystals.

The “Fashion Statements” collection.

Exaggeration, excessiveness, humor and replication are essential elements in Viktor & Rolf’s work and shows, as evidenced by the exhibits.

Four larger-than-life action dolls make an impressive presence in the “House of Dolls” section, not so different from modern installation art pieces proclaiming the melting-pot effect on people in today’s world, as one of the dolls has various skin tones in her face like a surreal painting.

The “The New Royals” collection.

To give the audience a better understanding, videos of the duo’s runway shows are played adjacent to the exhibits. From “Wearable Art,” the brand’s 2015 autumn/winter haute couture collection, the audience will be surprised to watch a dress transforming into an artwork hanging on the wall, and back into a dress on the mannequin beside it.

The “Wearable Art” collection.

The duo founded its avant-garde luxury fashion house in 1993. Widely recognized and respected for its provocative haute couture and conceptual glamour, Viktor & Rolf aspires to create spectacular beauty, elegance and a fun experience through an unconventional approach to fashion. They are also highly connected to the world of art and have participated in numerous exhibitions associated with prestigious museums across the globe.

Dates: April 29-Oct. 8

Tickets: 128 yuan (adults), 64 yuan (seniors aged 60 or older, students, teachers), free (children younger than 6 years old)

Scan the code to buy tickets:

Venue:  Main Gallery, inside Sea World Culture and Arts Center, Nanshan District

Metro:  Line 2 to Sea World Station, Exit A


inside Sea World Culture and Arts Center, Nanshan District