After showing in London for several seasons, Acne decamped to Paris this time out, and with good reason. Ahead of creating the new collection, creative director Jonny Johansson embarked on a collaboration with the artist Katerina Jebb, in which they explored the archive of historical garments at the Musée Galliera, the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. That exploration was the foundation of this collection. As Johansson explained after today's show, he and Jebb were enamored of the interiors of these antique clothes, and they sought to expose their hidden construction. For Jebb that meant scanning the pieces inside out, and creating photomontages that were used as the collection's print. Johansson, meanwhile, elaborated various elements of garment construction by revealing and exaggerating them, for instance by making a motif of an oversize chain "stitch."
This was rich material to play with, and the sheer variety of ideas on the runway, and the riot of color and fabric, gave you a sense of Johansson's exuberance about the project. And as usual, there were a lot of fine pieces here, like the men's and women's suit jackets and gilets that had been roughly gathered, and the women's short, sharp vests accented in metallic leather. In addition, Johansson's nubby bouclé looks were a highlight, especially those embellished with the stitchlike chain.
Overall, however, this was a mixed effort. The emphasis on layering meant there wasn't a clear message on proportion or silhouette. The oversizing here was a disappointment, as well—Johansson knows how to magnify a garment with flair, as his terrific pre-fall collection attested, but in this instance the models often seemed lost in their clothes. The scale didn't feel particularly specific. Nor, for that matter, did the off-kilter construction of much of the tailoring: Johansson said he'd made his jackets fall askew because he wanted them to feel relaxed, but the off-ness read as mannered instead.
Acne is a brand with enormous reserves of talent. Johansson's ambition is plain, and he and his team have earned their place on the big stage of Paris. But they seem to have developed a habit of damping the effect of their very good ideas, like this season's central theme of exposed construction, by throwing more ideas on top of them and not attending to the edit with sufficient discipline. A bit more focus would be welcome.