Jonny Johansson sent a mixed message with today's show of Acne Studio's womenswear. "Nothing retro, no references," he said of the clothes, after a presentation that had taken place in Apartment 1A, Princess Margaret's old digs at Kensington Palace, about as retro a location as the Establishment allows. Photographs of old-school glamour-puss Margaret by then-husband Lord Snowdon covered the walls, and the distant thumping was surely the sound of her flipping in her grave as a parade of serious teens filed by in Acne's casually diffident clothing. You could imagine the old girl snarling, "Damn hippies." That was, after all, partly the reaction Johansson was courting.
Asked to define what was "Swedish" about the clothes, the designer answered, "Spiritual, natural… hippie." The question of identity was a valid one, because it is actually quite hard to discern just what makes Acne distinctive—and yet it's a wardrobe staple for an impressive number of stylish women. Here, they would have latched onto the languor of a lo-o-o-ong red sweater over a floor-length tube. If they fancied layering up in blue, there was a navy knit over a floating chiffon shirt and leggings. If they wanted something up-to-the minute, there was a look that echoed the vintage bathing suit-cum-playsuit that is popping up all over for Spring.
Anyone looking for a harder edge—or maybe a flavor of Acne's former collaboration with Lanvin—could settle on the silver python-print shift with the big zipper that Alber Elbaz loves so much. There was tough glamour in leathers studded with freshwater black pearls. And there was an interesting backstory in other skins that had been embossed with Samoan motifs by a new collaborator, a female tattoo artist. And maybe that all adds up to a brand of distinction.
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