In 2005, designers Viktor & Rolf created Flowerbomb - a controversial, unapologetic fragrance that has since gone on to becoming the 13th most widely sold female fragrance in the world. But before the cult-followed fragrance, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren were recognized as the men behind fashion powerhouse Viktor & Rolf. Since coming together in 1992, the Dutch duo have been critically acclaimed for their avant-garde and witty approach to couture gowns. And for the first time, their work will be on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in an exhibition titled Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists. The exhibition is a strong edit of 25 years worth of celebrated work by the duo, displaying the most cultural and extremes pieces from their collections.
We caught up with the duo when they were in Sydney recently, here's what they had to say:
How did you get into fragrance?
V&R: For us, fragrance has always been a very important part of fashion and what it means to be a fashion brand, and right from the start we imagined that perfume would be a part of what we do. At the NGV show, you can see a project we did at the beginning of the career before we did RTW or couture, and one of these projects was based on us visualising our ambitions. It was really like what we wanted to do in our career...as our career was not going very well at the time. So we made several installations that represented what we wanted our life to be like and one of these installations represented a perfume. It was fake perfume, it had a an advertising campaign and a perfume stand just like you would see in a department store... so it's an example of how perfume has always been on our mind.
What was the concept of flowerbomb?
V&R: When L'Oréal came to us for a real perfume project, we went to Cassis in the south of France to smell different directions. We were very drawn to flowers but felt like they were a little old fashioned and wanted to modernise the flower direction. So when we came up with the word 'flowerbomb' we thought it would be nice to do flowers with something against it - make it cool and almost aggressive.
The shape has had a lot of controversy when it first launched, how did you come up with the design?
V&R: Well once we created the name it was just like ok, what does it look like? What does it smell like? So then we came up it with it to look like jewel and a grenade but also a fragrance.
Has commercial success influenced your fashion collections?
V&R: Well it's very rewarding to experience a project that we made with the same approach as we do for our fashion collections, but can also be so successful. It's very rewarding that something can be creative, conceptual and also commercially successful. But I wouldn't say it has changed us or our produce, that's always been the same.
You have a new fragrance coming out next year called 'Bloom', is this part of the Flowerbomb family?
V&R: It's a lighter, very beautiful variation to Flowerbomb. It has a more elongating bottle as if its 'blooming' and is based around the note of pomegranate. Not only is pomegranate a really lovely scent but conceptually we liked it as well as a grenade.
Is Bloom targeted at a specific audience?
V&R: We have never thought about targets - not in our fashion or in our perfume, it's always an open work and I like it that way. For instance when we do signing sessions, it's been so great to see the diversity that wear Flowerbomb.
What does fragrance mean to both of you?
V&R: We became interested in fashion because of perfume ads. So that's what I think of when I think of fragrance, fragrance is not just the perfume but it's the whole aura, glamour and mystery from perfume adds.
What is next for Viktor & Rolf?
V&R: It's an interesting question, because we kind of stopped thinking like that, we use to and it was always like we were running behind a bone - we now try to be a bit more in the moment and enjoy it more. We've just launched this great show in Melbourne, we've launched a collection of wedding dresses in New York, and we have a Bloom coming out - so we are just enjoying it!