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.
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.
Labels: Acne, Carin Wester, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Haidee Findlay-Levin, Jonny Johansson, Stockholm Fashion Week, The Local Firm