Off the catwalk
Last year, it was the art of street-wise sneakers. This year, it's haute couturiers du jour Viktor & Rolf. In examining how fashion is driven by commerce, Femke Wolting has chosen her subjects well - so much so that the Hong Kong International Film Festival has included her work for the past two years in its youth section titled [si]@hkiff.
Last year's Sneakers explored the hype behind sports shoes, and how the design and marketing of different styles targeted the diverse cultural identities among mass consumers, skaters or trend-spotters. Wolting also looked back to when sneakers were tools to rebel against the establishment: 1960s greasers, 70s punks and 80s hip-hop aficionados.
'Many new trends start from street culture and then are picked up by mainstream or even elite culture,' she says. Sneakers are now being embraced by upmarket designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Prada.
With Viktor & Rolf - Because We're Worth It, Wolting this year examines the Amsterdam-based design duo known for their innovative collections and theatrical shows, and who she regards as artistic couturiers.
'They combined fashion design with the creation of experimental installations and museum exhibitions,' she says of the partnership between Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren. 'But Viktor & Rolf seem to have built a carefully constructed image. There's an aura of secrecy around their collaboration.'
The documentary - starting with an exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2004 and ending with their autumn 2005 catwalk collection - follows every step of Viktor & Rolf's marketing campaign in their pursuit of becoming a world-class brand.
Wolting says Viktor & Rolf's transition is a good example of how fashion houses have to generate income from sidelines such as perfume and glasses to operate globally. 'Because the collections might not be affordable for the general public, clothing is no longer the most important product in the fashion world,' she says.
Because We're Worth It punctures the pair's well-constructed myth by showing how much time the designers spend on marketing meetings, and advertising and fashion-magazine shoots.
The title is a witty remark about the pair's new-found status as media darlings, Wolting says. 'It's referring to the announcement of the contract Viktor and Rolf made when they signed with L'Oreal. They were playing with the tagline of L'Oreal, 'Because you're worth it'.'
Viktor & Rolf - Because We're Worth It is part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Tonight, 9.30pm, Agnes b. Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre; Sun, 6pm, Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium