The Swedish outsider artist Hilma af Klint is having a mini moment, thanks to a Stockholm retrospective of the wall-size abstract drawings she made at the beginning of the twentieth century. One of her new adherents is Acne's Jonny Johansson. He was so taken with the mystical af Klint, who aimed to represent the philosophical ideas of her day in her work, that he dedicated his Spring men's collection to her. "She was before Mondrian, she was before Kandinsky," he was marveling as he flipped through the exhibition catalog. He might just as well have gestured up at his clothes. He'd adapted her pieces into the collection's prints. "When I saw her color palette, I thought this is my color palette," he said, pointing to her milky pinks, yellows, and blues. "I relate to this. Everyone thinks of Sweden as gray. I don't relate to that."
Those who see things differently often find that their visions look odd to others. That's a common enough Acne pitfall. The ledge was close here. You could look at the foil-stamped linen suiting and puddling, yard-wide chinos and see a young club kid's fantasy; Johansson, wide-eyed, professed to see the sea. Probably it was both. This collection, which sat tapered-to-extremes suiting next to those mega-trousers and raw-edged fraying jackets and cocoon coats inspired by fifties couture, was a kitchen-sink-and-all doozy. But that is the philosophical idea, circa 2013: The ideas aren't in the mix, they are the mix. If it doesn't always go down smoothly, that's the price of admission. It's one Johansson is willing to pay. "I would like to be a sign of the times if I can," he said. "Whether good or bad, I want to be doing something contemporary."