It was a conceptual conceit, indeed, but there was something magical about its astute realisation.
It is ironic that Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren chose to plaster their catwalk with the industrial nuts, bolts and cogs as this show was very much about the machinery of fashion. Namely how the machinery of a flashy show - and a touch of hifalutin conceptualism - can tart up a collection of ordinary, eminently wearable clothes into a 'fashion moment'.
Horsting and Snoeren have been responsible for more than their fair few, and for Autumn/Winter 2010 they revisited one just over a decade old - the 'Russian Doll' collection where Maggie Rizer was all but buried in an avalanche of specially constructed couture, working as individual pieces and yet interlocking to form a realised whole. It was a conceptual conceit, indeed, but there was something magical about its astute realisation. This season, the singular model was Kristen McMenamy, spinning on a cog with the two designers and bowing under a pile-up of 23 looks (the girl is a nineties-trained super-trooper after all).
Enough with the process, the real importance here was the end results. The collection was resolutely sump-oil black, flecked along the seams with crystals and studs like industrial rivets, and balanced atop corrugated-sole platform boots. Occasionally, an exaggerated industrial zip sliced through a shiny satin frock or down the front of a fur coat, while cocktail dresses received crystal-splattered numbers. Volume throughout was, quite naturally, increased - as if, say, you were wearing 22 outfits at once and had thrown a giant coat over the top. Only those 22 outfits were whisked away, so the coat simply had that volume draping loosely around the form.
They all fitted into the concept, certainly, but in the end the concept didn't really fit into the clothes, or at least wasn't reflected. The excitement and the buzz around the Viktor & Rolf show was for the spectacle itself, the 'machinery' of the fashion show rather than the fashions it offered. That's all fine for building a brand image - they are after all a bona fide multinational now, with perfume and high-street collaborations to prove it - but after the initial high wore off, this exercise ultimately felt shallow and trite.