Viktor & Rolf’s Barbican Exhibit With Side By Side Comparisons of the Dolls & Fashions With The Runway Models

Welcome to the dollhouse. Viktor & Rolf’s Barbican Exhibit, that is. Dutch fashion design duo Viktor & Rolf, whose runway shows have become increasingly imaginative over the years, employing everything from models wearing their own lighting and scaffolding to soot darkened faces and bodies, are showcasing some of their best and most interesting designs in a uniquely Viktor & Rolf sort of way.

Viktor & Rolf’s Barbican Exhibit

Viktor & Rolf's Barbican Exhibit

Having constructed a large dollhouse in whose rooms stand porcelain dolls (each doll approximately 2 feet tall) clad in their most memorable creations from the past fifteen years, Viktor & Rolf once again immortalize themselves in fashion history.

This summer an exhibition at the Barbican Art gallery in the UK put the duo’s fashions on porcelain dolls in a giant dollhouse as well as on runways with films of past runway shows playing in the background. The fashions and dolls are arranged by collection within the rooms. About fifty 19th century dolls showcase some of their most memorable creations since all the way back to 1993, taking over the entire gallery.

The ‘Dolls’ are replicas of antique dolls dressed in some of the fashion artists’ most iconic designs. Each porcelain doll is dressed in an haute couture creation that was exactly scaled-down on the basis of the original patterns, a meticulous and extremely labour-intensive process. Even the fabrics have been woven to scale, and the miniature model’s hair and make-up are exact copies of the runway styles.

The House of Viktor & Rolf: Dutch Fashion Design runs from 18 June 2008 – 21 September 2008 at the Barbican Art Gallery.

I have laboriously and painstakingly found the actual full size fashions from their past runway shows since 1993 — as well as almost all of the dolls from the Barbican exhibit — and have put them side by side for you to see for yourselves.

As shown above, even the hair and make-up on the bisque dolls replicate the look of the models and outfits.

The head of each doll is made by a Belgian expert who fires bisque faces traditionally and they are stunningly rendered with hand painted make up and hairstyles to match the models

And if you thought having the outfit smaller makes it easier to make, you are mistaken; each dress reportedly took double the time a full-size one takes to make.

Above: Drawing on the Dutch tradition of silver plating a baby’s first shoe as a keepsake, the climax of Viktor & Rolf’s Autumn/Winter collection of 2006–07, was a strapless wedding dress with a wide petticoated knee length skirt, silver plated, including even the bride’s bouquet.

The Book / Publication:

A 256 page hardback book, the most comprehensive on the work of Viktor & Rolf to date, including 400 fashion photographers, catwalk images and exclusive illustrations and polaroids, is available. Text by Caroline Evans and Susannah Frankel. Designed by FUEL. Published by Merrell in association with Barbican Art Gallery.

Buy the book here.

Barbican Art Gallery

image sources: Viktor & Rolf,, Elle UK,, Barbican Gallery and photographers Marcio Madeira and Douglas Lydon