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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Swede Rush

photography Jenni Porkka
styling Jamie M. Rosenthal
make-up Olle Johansson
hair Martin Christopher Harper
model Dani Karlsson
location Stockholm, Sweden


shawl Carina Sahlin, skirt Bruuns Bazaar, belt ACNE, leather glove Odds
bodysuit Calida, top Tiger of Sweden, wood bangles Echo of Deco
headpiece Nhu Duong



dress Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair
jacket Filippa K, gaucho jeans Levi's, headpiece Tour de Force, shoes Topshop



body stocking Disa Treutiger, skirt Fraulein Von Hast
top, jeans & shoes ACNE, headpiece Scherer Gonzalez



top Malene Birger, jacket Carin Wester, pants Nhu Duong
blazer Hugo Boss, skirt Fraulein Von Hast

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stockholm Fashion Week: Day 3/3

By Haidee Findlay-Levin...

After attending so many fashion shows in so many countries over the years—and I say that without bragging—it becomes very challenging to review shows in both a local and global context. Of course there will always be the standouts whose skill and ingenuity shine through—in the case of Stockholm, these were Acne and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, and there are plenty other Swedish labels that have made the international leap. But after the dramatics of Paris, the theatrics of London and the slickness of Milan, how does one fairly assess the collections of an emerging fashion community made up of mostly young and enthusiastic talent?

I tried to ask myself what it was I hoped to see at Stockholm Fashion Week—or Fashion by Berns, as it's called—and the answer was clear: new, young street fashion. When shows hit this note, I can't ask for anything more. I got it at the aforementioned Acne collection, which has actually risen to a level all its own, as well as Cheap Monday, for its cool take on the classic jean. The show and publicity shots were styled in such a way that was fresh, fun and playful. It never took itself too seriously and there was a resourceful DIY quality that screamed youth. I left feeling satisfied; I had gotten what I came for.

But a lot of shows fell short of this for various reasons. Some never went the extra mile to really flesh out an idea or to show something unexpected, and instead showed what was not only tried and tested, but had already been on the streets for the past season or two—evidently, as the audience was already wearing it. They played it too safe! Yes, I've heard all about the recession and credit crunch, but no amount of sameness or of last year's trend is going to make me or anyone else rush out to buy it again.

Other designers struggled with their place in the market. They seemed torn between the exuberance of youth and their desire to be grown-up. Never knock youth; there's a lifetime to grow up! I don’t see the point in sacrificing that youthful enthusiasm and willingness to embrace new ideas, as witnessed at the Beckmans student show yesterday, for the sake of looking adult. Grown-up styles work fantastically well when they are expertly cut in sophisticated and sumptuous fabrics—it's all about the cloth. Without fine cloth and fine cutting, the result is dress-up, a child’s pursuit.

And finally, some clothes are great for wearing but not necessarily for showing. Certain ideas often work better as a presentation or installation, others as a video or in print. Putting clothes on models under the glare of runway floodlights is like putting your work under a very strong microscope that reveals every thread, pucker and flaw. It can also be an enormous expense. Without the right casting of models to carry your clothes and your concept, the appropriate music, make-up and hair, you could be doing yourself more of a disservice.

Some of the shows I saw today—Dagmar, Nhu Duong, A-S Davik—had all the enthusiasm and commitment of Alexander McQueen’s first show in London, but they might as well have been made from trash bags. They didn’t have his impeccable skill, an enormous sense of conviction and an even bigger dose of guts. This is what it takes! This is what made that show, even years later, so memorable. I suppose I have been spoiled.

Sweden is clearly very fair-minded and democratic. Everyone gets a chance and a great opportunity to shine. Talent is proudly nurtured, encouraged and supported—something that barely exists in other cities. And generous awards are bestowed. This is all wonderful. But what they don’t do is self-critique. This makes it too easy and safe. No boundaries are pushed, no egos are bruised and the establishment is not rocked. I probably won’t be popular for saying any of this, but maybe it takes an outsider to do it.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stockholm Fashion Week: Day 1

By Haidee Findlay-Levin...

My second visit to Stockholm for Fashion Week by Berns feels diametrically opposed to the first. I was here in the spring and happily suffered insomnia due to endless beautiful days and the midnight sun. Here I am again for the fall '09 shows, somehow suffering the insomnia again, despite very dark days that run early into long dark nights. A friend told me to pack a flashlight and slushy shoes, which I promptly ignored—evidently along with all the other incredibly well-dressed attendees at the shows.

What is striking about fashion in Stockholm is the immediacy. It seems to go from catwalk directly to the street. People actually wear the clothes and ideas that we see on the catwalk and with the same attention to detail and accessory. These clothes are not the showpieces of Paris, which are strictly for the purpose of press. Instead they are wearable and cool enough to be worn without any need for diffusion or compromise.

Shows began in the early afternoon, which gave me time to pop into the newly enlarged and refurbished Acne store and snap up one of the Acne/Lanvin denim dresses I've been waiting months to get. In fact it was a bit of an Acne day. First, I had been busily transcribing an interview I'm writing for the next issue of Acne Paper, then immediately ran into the lovely Anja Cronberg, the magazine's Features Editor, who became my show companion for the rest of the day—and dinner companion, along with two close photographer friends of mine, Martin Liddell and Fredrik Stogkvist.

Acne opted for a presentation at Millesgarden, on one of the islands on the other side of town. The artist's house was filled with old statues, among which models on pedestals were scattered. In the first room we saw the pre-fall collection, while in the main room the full fall collection for both men and women was exhibited. The pre-collection was certainly cool, with rubber-soled wedge sneakers, bold copper earrings and silver neck cuffs. I also loved the denim: over-dyed pale-green baggy jeans, rolled up and worn with a great 1950’s couture-style short-sleeved tweed coat—one of those fashion oxymorons that somehow appeal to me.


Acne men's

A young Bob Dylan, transported from 60’s America to a contemporary unidentified European metropolis, apparently inspired Acne's menswear for fall. There was the contradiction of printed velvets layered with chunky hand-knits, the odd Lurex scarf and tone-on-tone solids in shades of burgundy with plum, cobalt blue with indigo and grass green with sapphire. The style was certainly folksy, but the Bohemian look was simultaneously elegant. I particularly loved a really squashed suede hat flopped over the eye of its wearer, as well as a series of tightly crocheted hats in much the same floppy style, which pretty much hid the faces of the young boys. The square-toe boots in two-tone leather and suede came complete with one-inch wide zippers and crepe-wedge soles.

But it was seeing the women's collection that made my trip to Stockholm already worthwhile, confirming all the sensibilities I have been feeling for a while. The collection was inspired by the many visits made by Acne‘s creative director Jonny Johansson to Berlin, for its burgeoning art scene, and the flea markets of Paris' Clignancourt. The 60's look of the girls struck me as part Nico and part Joan Baez, by way of early Pierre Cardin. Old tapestry-style paisley fabrics never looked crusty but rather as if they were wound directly off the bolt into clean tubular shaped tunics and mini-skirts. Worn over clear plastic, skinny trousers looked like clear stockings tucked into mirror-heeled wedge boots and massive tapestry-wedged shoes.


Acne women's

But it was the contrast of these cool clothes worn with incredible large precious jewelry that completely took my breath away. A while back, Jonny had fallen in love with the image of an elderly man he had seen sitting in Café Flore who had proudly worn enormous rings on every finger. This led to an incredible collaboration with a German jewelry designer and artist, Michael Zobel, the father of one of the Acne designers. Each one-of-a-kind piece was enormous, from the multiple rings worn on both hands to a huge round mauve jade brooch, worn like a pin on a leather biker vest.

Among Acne's jewelry offerings was a large, low-slung circular silver pendant with a cut-out square, which was replaced with a gold bar, volcanic glass and floating obsidian. Wrist cuffs were made from hammered gold that had been melted over unpolished silver, and then combined with black diamonds and rough wood from the Sahara. Others, in rose gold and platinum were emblazoned with rough coral, aquamarine and Madagascar tourmaline. A lollypop-sized emerald on an 18-kt gold ring sat next to a flying saucer of hematite and oriental pearls. These sculptural combinations of precious stones, hard wood and metals easily looked tribal, but in Zobel’s hands, the result was more experimental 70’s modernist.

The other really impressive show of the day was Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair. The design duo are expert cutters, like no other in Stockholm—in much the same way Junya Watanabe is in Tokyo. This season they were drawn to their theatrical side. They used their 3-D technique of cutting fabric, while drawing inspiration from Picasso’s Guitar and Girl with a Mandolin, to construct outfits in a soft cubist manner. The collection opened with total black and then moved into a series of contrasting dogtooth tweeds and small checks in purples, browns and eventually beiges, resulting in an undefined color. The complexity of some of these forms, further combined with wide plissé, were clearly cubist in inspiration. While other garments, particularly men's, relied more on the loose draping and deft wrapping of fabric around the body, in the way of the artist Christo. A variety of clown-like cropped trousers, complete with baggy knees and bustle were often held up by suspenders and then combined with a jaunty hat, paisley or polka-dot bowties, handkerchiefs and the odd silk scarf. When viewed from a distance, they seemed to grow out of a shirt collar or jacket pocket to create the illusion of seamlessness.


Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair

Meanwhile, design teams such as The Local Firm tapped into a very prevalent gothic, androgynous street sensibility, where the distinction between the layering of cool men's and women's wear was hardly noticeable. Perhaps it was the recent success of the Swedish film “Let the Right One In” that has inspired this vampire sensibility, particularly evident in Carin Wester’s collection of men’s trousers, high-waisted and perfectly pleated, ending in a slightly low crotch then tapering to a cuff and stirrup that ran neatly over the shoe. These were mostly worn shirtless, with a long jacket or cardigan, exposing an almost bloodless white skin to the infinite possibilities of a long winter night in Sweden.

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