Old And New. Acne Studios AW20

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You wouldn’t know it from these photos, but the Acne Studios women’s and men’s collections took place together. Meaning, at the same time, in the same venue, with the same music. But instead of being shown together, they had been consciously uncoupled – separated by a featureless white wall running the length of the runway. Jonny Johansson, the label’s designer, explained that the men’s direction would be “forward” while the women’s direction would look back. More specifically, AI and algorithms contributed to the men’s designs, whereas Old Masters artworks and ornamental fabrics formed the basis of the women’s show. Beautiful jacquards, brocades, and velvets that might have otherwise been used for upholstery, theater curtains, or a mondaine’s corset were transformed into dramatic dress coats, cocoon-shaped tunics, and sumptuous suiting with edges frayed and tasseled to varying degrees of decadent distress. A series of twisted tailored looks, including a leather coat painted with a faded scene of classical nudes, reiterated a certain unhinged, arty attitude that comes so naturally to Acne Studios. A body-contoured dress enhanced with a burnout treatment that traced the acanthus pattern was gorgeous. The womenswear was, summing up, beautiful and really, really covetable. On the other side of the wall, thinks weren’t looking this great. The menswear was created in collaboration with a “generative artist” named Robbie Barrat, who writes algorithms to realize his projects. All Acne archives were filtered through Barrat’s algorithms to enable an AI-authored menswear collection. Definitely, a human hand had its part in the collection. However, the tech-authored designs looked clumsy and… overcomplicated? This time, the old way wins.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – In Search For Excitement. Acne Studios SS20

There are moments when I really think that some brands would do better with look-books instead of fashion shows. Especially Acne Studios‘ menswear. Jonny Johansson‘s spring-summer 2020 collection had lots of Acne classics – like elongated white shirts, cropped pants, so-ugly-it’s-good sneakers – that need no further introduction. For the sake of the show, they were made bit weirder with plastic lapels and cowboy fringes. The most interesting garments were the woven ones in scarlet red (with raw fringing) – they were the most attractive and sparked at least some excitement. But in overall – this show brought very little to the table and drowned in the sea of other menswear shows in Paris that got barely anything to say.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

On Power Dressing. Acne Studios AW19

For autumn-winter 2019, Acne Studios’ designer, Jonny Johansson, considered what’s high fashion from the perspective of young people, and how it might change throughout time. “All the power dressing that I consider iconic womenswear, maybe they are attracted to it, but in a different way.” While doing the research, he also thoroughly examined Helmut Newton’s eternally chic photographs, and was amazed with the fact that those visuals are so relevant, and not getting old – even a day. All this gave birth to a collection, that’s quite different to Acne Studios we’ve seen in the last few seasons. Oversize pants were cinched at the waist and tucked into socks; coats had those refined-looking, rounded shoulders; draping, probably never seen at Acne before, looked sublime. The new season silhouette is sharp and chic, but there were also elements that felt distinct to the brand’s aesthetic: knits with raw finishings, eclectic jewellery (those XXL bracelets are gorgeous) and, other than the very seductive, Newton-ish pumps, heavy trekking boots. Worn with one of the statuesque blazers or a collared ‘office’ midi-dress, the elegant-slash-off-duty look would exactly be what Johansson worked on this time: power dressing, fitted for a contemporary woman.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Rustic on Acid. Acne Studios AW19

Acne Studios’ designer, Jonny Johansson, isn’t the guy you will see all over the Paris fashion week Instagram feed. He’s an outsider. Or even, a double-outsider, as he dubbed himself in a Vogue interview. “Because we’re from Stockholm, which is from way outside [the fashion world], plus I’m from the very north of Sweden, which is way outside even Stockholm.” Being ‘outside’, to a surprise of many, has major advantages in fashion industry – you’re different, and you offer something different. Acne Studios always feels slightly off-beat, raw, but not nothing close to the stereotypical image of cold, Scandinavian minimalism. For the men’s autumn-winter 2019 collection, Johansson delivered clothes full of soul and energy. The designer mused on mid-century bohemia and counterculture in the fringed poncho-sweatshirts and acid-palette coats and jackets worn unbuttoned, over naked torsos. Snake-effect leather and cow-print pieces were very Americana, even rustic. Wear that extra long, ecru scarf when it’s cold. Use it as a blanket when the sun comes out. Don’t be afraid to step into mad in these colourful, trekking boots. Jonny loves the idea of a city escape, whether it’s the forest or the mountains. He works with this ‘weekend traveller’ notion for a while, and seems to enter the season with a similar spirit.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Not Your Average Ballerina. Acne Studios SS19

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I guess many designers, hearing the word ‘ballet’, would go for all shades of pastel pink, do fancy layers of tulle, or keep it ‘sensual’, yet coldly strict. Jonny Johansson, the mind behind Acne Studios, proved in his spring-summer 2019 collection that when fashion collides with ballet, the result doesn’t have to be one of those well-known clichés: or your average, pretty ballerina girl, or that kind of cigarette smoking, drowning in beige lady who’s in fact a ballet teacher. There was something of the incredibly colourful Ballets Russes and their distinct vibrancy; maybe, it’s Edgar Dégas’s Petite Danseuse gone very modern, wearing flip-flops and sneakers after the rehearsals in some other dimension; or maybe, the ballet mood got conveyed so smoothly thanks to the placement of Merce Cunningham posters on t-shirts and jackets. Well, whatever the secret is, Johansson captured the energy, the strength and the beauty of ballet in a very profound way. Also, I adored the way he divided the collection into four ballerina ‘stages’: rehearsal, onstage, off-duty, and evening. From flowing pleated skirts and bodysuits to tracksuits and tuxedos, it might be a wardrobe of a ballet dancer – but don’t take it too literal, as it all looks so approachable and realistic.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Detox. Acne Studios AW18

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They come back looking amazing, great skin, relaxed”, is how Jonny Johansson sees his friends and colleagues that have chosen to move away from urban environments to live in the countryside. Airy, light and cozy are the words to describe Acne Studios‘ latest collection – one of the best in a while. What the Scandinavian label has in offer for autumn-winter 2018? Well, everything is lovely, that’s first. Whether we’re speaking of the loosely fit, buttoned maxi-dresses in toned florals or plaid blanket coats, it’s a wardrobe that’s ready to please you in autumn, both in the city or in the forest (mushroom-picking!). Also, I can’t get enough of the colour palette, which reminds me of an idyll, late September rural landscape. You might ask yourself a question, why is the collection presented as early as Vetements or Proenza Schouler? Johansson’s decision for Acne Studios follows a certain ‘detox’ philosophy. Showing earlier, close in time to the menswear presentation, lets Johansson focus creatively on a specific concept and, to some extent, escape the regular Paris fashion week rush for limelight. And now, off to the country.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Acne Studios in Berlin

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It’s impossible not to love Acne Studios for at least two reasons: it’s edgy, yet wearable clothing, and remarkable store designs across the world. Although the one on Potsdammer Straße in Berlin isn’t the newest addition to Acne family, it’s a place where you want to stay for longer. Like in an art gallery, the wide, metallic tables display Acne’s sculptural wedges and arty sandals. One-of-a-kind chairs, piles of signature, pink shoe-boxes, industrial ceiling lamps: the store reflects the multi-faceted chcarecter of Jonny Johnasson‘s aesthetic. As the current menswear collection features a lot of lovely pastel pink (like the rubber sole of the shoes I’m trying below), one of the sellers wore a pair of pants in a matching colour. “Boys should wear more pink!” he said. Indeed!

Potsdamer Straße 87 / Berlin