There was an unfamiliar feeling in the air after this evening's Acne show: excitement. Acne designer Jonny Johansson sent out a taut, terrific collection, and it snapped everyone in the audience to attention. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what made these clothes work so well; maybe it was that they expressed, with ease and confidence, Johansson's internal tension about seizing on a recent trip to Marrakech for inspiration. As the designer explained after the show, he went to Morocco bored in advance of all the fashion clichés the place had birthed, and left with the unhappy feeling that he, too, had been influenced. That ambivalence made him work extra-hard, apparently, to reconsider the city, and interpret its colors and attitude in a way that felt relevant and urbane.
Thus, the signature Acne garment this season is a broad cotton caftan, worn as a top and trimmed with graphic, tapelike strips of contrast color. The loose, airy feel of Marrakech style showed up, as well, in the collection's capacious shorts and culottes, a key silhouette. But Johansson remixed the reference, mashing it up with seriously street looks such as crop tops laser-cut with stars, and cropped leather motorcycle jackets and pants inset with racing stripes and panels of sparkly plastic. The pants, in particular, are going to fly off the racks. The collection's other big theme was a kind of über femininity, seen in flared and full skirts and little peplum jackets; here, the designer struck an original tone by experimenting with his materials, making these pieces out of dense-looking bonded silk, cotton, denim, and more. Johansson also played graphic games with color, punctuating his primary palette of white, black, and denim blue with earthy greens, rusts, and ochers, plus some bracing hits of lavender, pink, and electric blue.
On the whole, this collection set a new bar for Acne as a fashion house, as opposed to merely a bellwether street-wear brand. That said, you'll be seeing these pieces on the street; at a certain point during the show, one got the sense that the insider audience had stopped taking notes and started writing their preorders. That's always a good sign. Be on the lookout for Acne's giant-tasseled loafers: The black pairs will be a hit, and the ones in sparkly electric blue will be a fashion phenomenon.