When a brand starts showing on the catwalk, it's entirely proper for the scale of its ambitions to expand. In the past few seasons, though, it's been hard to escape the feeling that Acne Studios was perhaps getting ahead of itself. The collections kept metastasizing, in a completely literal sense, as though expanding the volumes and stretching the proportions of the clothes themselves would suffice to justify Acne's presence on a runway. To put that more plainly, the collections were starting to come off a touch puffed up. This time out, however, Jonny Johansson and his design cohort reeled themselves in.
This collection marked an explicit return to the brand's roots, in various ways: There was an emphasis on denim and on workwear-inspired styles, and more generally, the collection was very, very Swedish. Indeed, its starting point, according to Johansson, was the poem "Till Havs," as performed by the Swedish opera singer Jussi Björling; showgoers today were treated to a very galvanizing rendition of the tune. And then they were treated to a fast-paced défilé of the most accessible looks Acne has shown in a while. There's going to be a sizable constituency for this season's white laser-cut leather pieces, for instance, not to mention the oversize button-downs, elasticized bustiers, and tonal denim. "Till Havs" translates as "At Sea," and the collection thus reflected a mariner theme, with lots of seafaring stripes and naval peacoat styles; in a puckish touch, there were also tiny anchor-shaped embellishments. Johansson hasn't jettisoned his taste for largeness entirely: There were a handful of webbed knits with sleeves that extended past the fingertips, for example. But in general, this collection felt refreshingly measured. The only complaint here, really, was that Johansson pursued a few too many ideas; a stiff edit would have made this a stronger outing. Still, the ship has righted itself.