A celebration of growth and evolution. Acne Studios transports to a fantasy forest with poisonous vines and roots, strangely sparkling tree sap and exploding flora. Models emerge from the darkness to the sound of a special live performance by the avant-garde electronic composer Sarahsson.
Rooted in nature, its symbolism and mysticism – with futuristic views. The topography of a forest, both brutal and magical, is reimagined for the Fall/Winter 2023 collection. Form-enhancing eveningwear contrasts with voluminous outerwear, alongside wardrobe archetypes that conceal and reveal in equal measure.
“With this collection I was thinking about the dark winters we have in Sweden, where there are only a few hours of daylight. I wanted to capture the beauty of the darkness in both the collection and the set. Sweden is the kind of place where the city ends abruptly and then the pine forest begins. I’ve always enjoyed the contrast between urban life and nature, the idea that an infinite forest is just around the corner. In Scandinavia, nature rubs up against the city very often: you tend to have the playground on one side of the building and the forest on the other. But living in such close proximity to nature is becoming increasingly rare in our modern world,” says Jonny Johansson, creative director of Acne Studios.
Earthy tones of green and brown inspired by decaying leaves and tree roots are juxtaposed with poisonous shades of acid yellow, toxic pink, rusty orange and bright blue.
A study in contrasts, the silhouette alternately hugs the body with skin-tight collaged and draped styles with micro hemlines, or skews generous, with boxy, oversized shapes and floor-sweeping lengths. Cut-outs are a recurring theme, appearing organically in dresses patchworked together from crinkled georgette, lace and crochet leaves and in draped, distressed velvet devore, chiffon and knit gowns. Dyed denim and painted leather looks continue the game of exposure thanks to lacing details, a motif that appears later in trompe l’oeil form on body-hugging tailoring.
Materials have been treated to appear faded or wrinkled, shredded and distressed to give the sense of being aged in dirt and rain. Others have textures inspired by flowers, plants and tree bark. Delicate draped crinkled georgette, lace, chiffon and velvet devore contrasts with painted leather and denim patchwork with 3D tinted stone textures. Overdyed wools have been bonded with metal foil, allowing for crumpling, while thick-pile yarns mimic the texture of moss.
Scrap metal objects tossed in the undergrowth are reimagined as ornaments: discarded soda cans become earrings, forgotten ring-pulls and bottle tops embellish chain necklaces, empty tubes of paint curl round fingers, wrists and ears as rings and cuffs. Exaggerated boiled-wool hats resemble supersize fungi, their organic forms contrasting with characteristically futuristic eyewear.
Delicate crochet flower-adorned sandals, pumps overlaid with leather scraps distressed to resemble burnt petals, and crinkled georgette-covered boots are juxtaposed with something tougher: chunky, square-toed pumps sporting leather that appears to be melting, heavyset utilitarian boots and knee-high, patchwork-effect leather boots, some with lacing details and pointed lace-up mules.
The show’s distressed-leather bag style, the Multipocket, comprises a compact, multi-pocketed shoulder bag whose shape references tool belts and vintage camera bags. A round pouch bag in textured leather with a sculptural rusted-metallic handle appears alongside a biker-style shoulder bag in loveworn leather, in two sizes. Meanwhile the ’90s-style Platt shoulder bag, first introduced for SS23, is reimagined in a patchwork of painted leather enlivened with lacing details.
Immersed in darkness, the show space is transformed by British multidisciplinary creative and set designer Shona Heath. “I asked [Shona] to create a magical place that captured the topography of a dark forest in a way that felt creative. I love how forests are always changing, growing, transforming, and the clothes are very crafty,“ says Jonny Johansson. Shona Heath says of her creation, “Fantasy fauna, acrid and raw, grow and twist their way through oblivion. Abrasive vines craft their way upwards, looking for something to cling on to. It’s a strange sparkling world, and the blackness envelops and comforts us, just as the scale makes us feel small and sheltered by this wonderful, calm land.”
One model appears wearing intricate body paint depicting mountain and forest scenes, intended to offer a window onto nature.
The British composer, producer, performance artist and DJ Sarahsson performs a characteristically multi-faceted, genre-defying original work for FW23. Fusing classical music with metal, experimental electronics and hardcore, her work explores her personal experience with synaesthesia and the blurring lines between binaries.
The Women’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection will be available in all Acne Studios stores and on acnestudios.com.