Lady Gaga Unmasked: Vilsböl de Arce


It takes a sense of extremes but also some sense of a woman’s body to dress Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Natalie Portman. All three wore Prisca Vilsbøl and Pia de Arce’s Barbarella-style micro-woven bodysuits from last season, which topped a sleek leotard with linebacker-sized rolls of padding on the shoulders. The Danish fashion design duo Vilsbøl de Arce blend the gorgeous with the grotesque—without automatically being camp (but sometimes they are!).

For their Fall 2010 collection, called “Anatomy” and unveiled at Copenhagen Fashion Week, they presented a collection of serrated, folded, and sculpted leather in draped sheer layers and neutral colors. It was wearable and sensual, but also inspired by animals’ exoskeletons, action films and performance art. And by encasing her face in a black Vilsbøl de Arce leather mask that left only her nose exposed at a recent press conference in Malta, Lady Gaga demonstrated her keen ability to sniff out the collection’s more arresting fashion pieces.

Click to see what Vilsbøl de Arce have to say about art and science and celebrity:

ANA FINEL HONIGMAN: Do either of you have a medical or science background?

VISBOL DE ARCE: That’s a funny question: our “Anatomy” collection was related to the body and its structure, not to curing diseases. We’re interested in what makes clothing relate to who we are, how we’re made and ultimately how we feel, within the world we live in. It felt essential to address the body as fashion designers, not as doctors.

HONIGMAN: Do you consider your work art?

VISBOL DE ARCE: We could compare our attitude to that of architects; there’s an inherent question in architecture as whether it is an art or a science. It lies right in the middle. It is both serving a purpose, and expanding our world of culture and experience. We see fashion similarly: clothes are made to be used, keep us warm, cover our bare bodies, but they’re also an expression of who we are, how we feel and what we’d like to say.

HONIGMAN: What do you see as the most significant differences between fashion and art?

VISBOL DE ARCE: Today the tendency in most creative fields is to blur the line between the practical and the artistic. All the same, art is exclusive, and opposed to both the commercial and popular. So in a way it operates in a crisis; hyping art is losing art. We think that fashion has the capacity to re-inject artistic value into art. It is a commercial practice per se, but with a meaningful purpose.

HONIGMAN: How has dressing rock stars or celebrities affected your work or your reception?

VISBOL DE ARCE: Our work, not at all. Our image, probably. We do think about pieces in a larger context and concept of reflection. The personality of the person who will wear it can become part of the equation, but it should not dominate it.

HONIGMAN: What are the qualities that you imagine your wearers most wanting to express with your clothes?

VISBOL DE ARCE: You could call it sexy architecture.