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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stockholm Fashion Week: Day 2/3

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

So this endless daylight is starting to take effect. I didn’t get to bed before 4 am and it was super bright and birds were chirping. I got up after only five hours and was already regretting it. As plans for my trip after Stockholm kept shifting, so did plans to meet another photographer that morning for breakfast. I didn’t ease into the day in quite as relaxed a pace as the yesterday morning.

I had breakfast outside with the sun already beating down on me, then crossed the street for the Hope show (everything here is super local and easy), where an early salmon lunched was served. Being a vegetarian in Sweden isn't such fun, but there's still plenty to indulge in. We are constantly fed, plied with drinks (yes, even at noon!) and given gifts from each of the designers. In Paris you are lucky if they hand you a bottle of water every three days. The best treat, though, was a live outdoor performance by Coco Sumner, the 16-year-old daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler. Equipped with an acoustic guitar and accompanied by one other, she belted out a few really energetic tunes about losing control and another about not being able to sleep (how fitting). The words seemed genuinely her own, yet of someone with a few more years notched on her belt. The voice was distinctly reminiscent of her father's, but with more guts.

The Hope show was good, with lots of cute boys in shortish trousers and narrow pleated khakis, worn with oversized trench coats or shrunken jackets. Longer jackets or light coats were shown with ultra short shorts and turtlenecks. Lavender popped up again among mostly neutral colors, particularly in ankle-grazing men's socks, which I later discovered turned up in my gift bag. Womenswear was stronger than I had seen before, especially when it came to the tailoring. They showed similar oversized trenches, great sleeveless jackets or vests and some 80’s dresses with an asymmetric contrast collar in mostly black, white or beige. Dresses had ease and the usual simplicity; others had some cutaway details that never quite measured up to the tailored pieces, even when worn by top model Freja.

Afterwards, I sat on the grass and waited with a few British journalists for the next show, Tiger of Sweden, back over the road at Berns, our hotel, when Coco Sumner joined us. She had changed out of her Hope garb and back into skinny jeans, high-top sneaker boots, a Rolling Stones T-shirt and Ray-Bans. She was also carrying a beat-up old fur jacket, which was funny considering it was summer and the sun was blazing. People rushed over to snap her picture. I laughed when she described her wardrobe to one blogger as her mother’s shoes, her brother’s girlfriend’s jeans and her brother’s T-shirt. I suppose whatever she has, it's all inherited from the family.

The Tiger of Sweden show felt long, and this more commercial collection was lacking in the subtleties of some of the others we had seen. The music pounded, the men’s suits were not quite as well-fitted, although I was pleased to see they had exchanged the now popular lavender for flesh tones and raspberry, with a touch of green for contrast. They also included some check to the usual sold block colors. This time the womenswear was stronger than the menswear, ironically in the tailoring. Sleeveless or belted jackets were shown with high-waisted trousers or pleated shorts. I also liked two drawstring jersey jumpsuits, one long and the other short, which had a relaxed ease about them. I have noticed in Sweden that womenswear generally comes across as more effortless than menswear. I wondered if this was because men were spending more time in front of the mirror.

There was a particular girl in the audience who had a fantastically pulled-together look. She could have been a ballerina or a young Grace Kelly. Today she was wearing a royal blue collar-less suit with a skinny belt wrapped around her waist, red platform shoes and a tan handbag. She carried large oval white sunglasses, although I never saw her put them on. I noticed she had nipped the pencil skirt in at the back in what seemed like her own urgent alteration work. I shared a Chinese high tea with Jacob from V and Marina, the very pregnant fashion editor at Bon magazine (one of the event's main sponsors), before taking in the Nicolaj D’Etoiles show. This menswear show was a slight departure from the others, much more flamboyant, down to the shantung silk shirts, trousers and jackets with contrasting silk linings. It was also the most accessorized of all the collections, with chain, string or rope belts and neck scarves, or cravats—even though the models were all barefoot. At the end it was revealed that the show was an homage to Yves Saint Laurent, clearly the 70’s/Tangier period.

Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair was by far the most impressive of all the shows I've seen so far. Inspired by the curvilinear, rusted steel sculptures of Richard Serra, the designers managed to bring together concept and cut in a clean and preppy way. Endless blue shirting was turned into full dresses for the girls and multi-layered reconstructed shirts for the men. We saw several examples of perfectly deconstructed and then perfectly reconstructed men's suiting and shirting, often with enlarged stiff collars and cuffs that morphed and cascaded down the body—quite reminiscent of Viktor & Rolf or Harajuku Girl ruffles. They took the method beyond the suiting and shirting to softer jersey pieces on which they displayed still oversized and ultra-low collars, contrasted with strict narrow trousers. These techniques of twisting, distorting, deconstructing and reconstructing men’s fabrics were taken to a level of Yohji or Junya. The inspiration was evident, but they handled their concept expertly while exhibiting an exceptional talent for cutting and draping. The final black short, full-sleeved cotton coat-dress was both wearable and exceptional. This duo is certainly one to watch.

Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair

The day was capped by the Acne show, starting with drinks at their elaborate atelier in Stockholm’s Old Town. The infamous brand, which began in jeans although they've dropped the word from their name (now Acne, not Acne Jeans), just about put Sweden on the fashion map—if you don't count H&M. The menswear portion of the collection integrated Bauhaus, while celebrating 50’s youth and rebelliousness. Womenswear, meanwhile, incorporated Bauhaus with the confidence of the 80s and the Urban Cowboy. Denim featured in both. The result was a nontraditional placement of effortless clothes, perfectly stylized into a strong and confident silhouette. I particularly loved the skirt-like, wide leather pants with a low, extra wide elasticized waist. It sounds tricky, but in fact they were incredibly simple, worn with a closed-collar white shirt and string tie. The leather biker jacket color-blocked to resemble faded paint on an old building was fantastic. This time the men's and women's sides were equally balanced, each with light-as-air, almost transparent suiting and vintage-looking denim in two shades, dark and light blue. Girls and guys wore high taupe felt hats, with snakeskin boots on the guys and fantastic wooden shoes and boots on the girls. These shoes, with their geometric wooden platform heels, even circular in some cases, were a step away from sculpture. The legacy of Bauhaus, which sought to harmonize an object's function and form, is respected by Acne and their concept of building collections as capsule wardrobes. I do think they would have been wiser, however, to stay away from sliced and frayed denim that was a little too reminiscent of the denim that Martin Margiela showed last summer, even if ripped jeans have always been a symbol of rebelliousness, which they were trying to capture.


At show’s end we were taken downstairs once more for drinks, while the room was redressed for a full buffet dinner. I caught up with my friend Thomas Persson, art director and editor of Acne Paper, for whom I also write, and his boyfriend Mattias Karlsson, who styled the show. In fact, we met the same night and at the same dinner that he met Matthias, in London eight years prior. I have become quite the Acne party groupie, going to several of their events in London, Paris, New York and now, finally, Stockholm. The dinner was a really fun sit-down affair. Stockholm’s most handsome and beautiful were assembled, so beautiful that it looked like the dinner was cast with models, along with the show. How can one country be so good-looking? Everyone was a little giddy from the previous night’s party in Paris—one of the few I managed to miss! Jonny Johansson, creative director of Acne, had collaborated with Alber Elbaz of Lanvin to create a denim and accessories collection. It sounded like Alber was as enamored with the Swedes as I was, and in turn they seemed equally smitten by his charm and talent. They had only good (and a few pretty entertaining things) to say about this collaboration. It sounded like a pretty wild party, disco being the music of choice, keeping them dancing until the early hours. Pulling off a show and this wonderfully civilized dinner the night after must have been no easy feat.

The evening—or was it morning again?—ended with more drinks (and boy can they drink!) and chatting back at Berns, along with some of my British friends from Dazed and Confused and Another magazine, who had flown in for the event. We were then joined again by the Acne lot and my photographer friend Andreas Larsson. Jonny was intrigued and soon mesmerized by my wooden glasses, which was the general idea. He promised to show me around old Stockholm when all the festivities were over. I guess no one sleeps here.

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