Ann-Sofie Back is not afraid of a big theme. Her last two Atelje collections, God and God II, explored religion. The ones before that took on sex and porn. This season, Back's area of investigation was Violent Sports. More broadly, the designer seemed to be thinking about violence and masculinity—strong military references accompanied the allusions to boxing and karate in Back's clothes, an acknowledgment of the fact that "sport" isn't the only excuse men find for hurting each other.
There were some cool-looking pieces here to be sure, including a motorcycle jacket with a karate belt-inspired closure and another jacket that married martial arts pocketing and a ruching detail inspired by the look of boxing shorts. Elsewhere, glossy boxing shorts nylon was luxe-ified into a pair of sharp satin trousers and tube socks were artfully reinterpreted as a cool intarsia knit. The collection was small, but it was full of ideas, and that's typical for Back, who uses her Atelje label as a laboratory for her lower-priced Back line as well as for Cheap Monday, which she creative-directs. It will be interesting to see how this collection's ideas get diffused. And it will be interesting, too, to see how the designer expands on her inquiry in the planned Violent Sports II collection for Fall '13. This time out, it did feel as though Back was skating on the surface of an interesting subject, cherry-picking aesthetic possibilities but neglecting to probe the underlying issues. Maybe next season, she'll sink her teeth in a bit more.