Acne’s bedraggled August Strindberg cool
Bedraggled, half-thrown together and boasting lots of off-beat wit, the latest collection from Acne seen Sunday evening in Paris was a triumph of arty artifice and gutsy style.
Inspired by the oils of August Strindberg, better known by far for his writing, though in fact a pretty decent painter, the clothes had the tragic naturalism one can associate with Sweden. Yet, with plenty of the chiseled-cheekbone chic of the country too.
Cool Comanches and sexy Sioux marching inside the Maison de la Radio in worn leather tunics; bashed silver jeans; cowboy boots fitted out with high-tech hiking gear; faded, saddle-stitched cowhide suits; dégradé golden suede redingotes. All finished with feather earrings, aviator glasses and rough centurion sandals with Mexicana buckles.
This marked the second time Acne designer Jonny Johansson had channeled Strindberg. Back in 2013, the well-spring was the author’s little known portraits.
"I went to an auction recently where they sold one of his nature paintings and I was immediately struck by its power. Everyone thinks he was just an author but Strindberg had great vision as a painter and I wanted that in these clothes," explained Johansson in the crowded backstage.
This season it was the naturalist paintings Strindberg painted when he suffered writer’s block. With the agreement of the Strindberg Foundation, Acne used his Flowers of the Moor dramatic prints in funky cheongsams.
A stickler could perhaps accuse Acne and Johansson of being the latest high street ready-to-wear brand to muscle into the haute couture season. Net a squatter, even. But, hang it all, on this performance Acne deserves its place during couture.
For, above all, the cast marched with the self-confidence of young women who know they are looking pretty special. All leading to a climax when Grace Slick belted out Jefferson Airplane’s "White Rabbit." A key song in Big Little Lies, a little like this honest-to-God ready-to-wear show invading Paris couture. Then again, Strindberg was put on trial for blasphemy, so he would probably have loved Acne’s chutzpah in showing this week in France.
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