This week the NGV opens a huge retrospective covering 25 years of haute couture icons and fashion pioneers Viktor&Rolf. Known as exponents of “wearable art”, the duo has always taken an irreverent approach to getting dressed. Their most extravagant work is high-concept and more akin to sculpture than anything you might wear.

Ahead of their arrival in Australia, the Dutch designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren took a few moments to chat with Broadsheet. Evidently, they’re still very close after a quarter of a century. They even answer as one.

Broadsheet: Why has your creative partnership lasted as long as it has?
Viktor & Rolf: Because we are best friends and we work as one – it is almost as if we have one shared brain. We met during our studies and we started working together for the Festival de Hyeres, an international fashion contest in the south of France. We don’t really know the reason why we work well together, we just do, and we don’t analyse it too much. A famous Dutch author said: “Time is the basis for every relationship”. On top of the fact that we are a natural fit, by now we have worked together for a long time. It makes all the difference.

BS: What can we expect from this new show at the NGV?
V&R: The pieces that will be on display were selected by us together with the exhibition’s curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot. With this exhibition we wanted to showcase a special selection of our work as fashion artists: “iconic”, “striking”, and “sculptural” were key words. In essence, we want to share our notion of wearable art.

Viktor&Rolf, Performance of Sculptures haute couture collection, spring–summer 2016 published L’Officiel Spain, March 2016, © Laura Marie Cieplik

Viktor&Rolf, Cutting Edge Couture ready-to-wear collection, spring– summer 2010 photo © Team Peter Stigter

BS: Early on in your careers you weren’t interested in selling ready-to-wear clothes –your collections were more like exhibitions. Why did you take this approach? And why did you move towards ready-to-wear?
V&R: We have always used fashion as a means of expression and as a field to experiment. That is just our inclination, and it has nothing to do with money. When we did ready-to-wear it was mainly because we had a pre-conceived idea of “how it’s done” in fashion. We are glad that we have left that approach behind us. You cannot please others in these matters.

BS: Has it changed your approach, having commercial considerations as well as artistic ones?
V&R: No, the approach is always the same, it's just that it can be more difficult to achieve a desirable product.

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists opens on Friday October 21 at the NGV. We’ll be taking a closer look at the show later this week.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists.