4 April 2016

A Visual Alphabet of Acne Studios

Acne's ready-to-wear is suitably easy-to-wear. Form and function melt together with this paradoxical Scandi-simplicity that shouldn't work but does. Think IKEA's on-the-ball design that maintains a pleasant practicality - Acne is your closet's equivalent with a utilitarian basic and trend-defining piece for every BILLY bookcase and POÄNG chair. This pictorial presentation of all things Acne takes you from Appropriate Acronyms to their Zine, Acne Paper, with a whole lotta pink in between.

A is for appropriate acronyms
Acne Studios was founded in 1996 in Stockholm as part of the creative collective ACNE that focused on graphic design, film, production and advertising. The name ACNE stands for "Ambition to Create Novel Expressions".

B is for bomber love affair in satin
Nothing better than a silky smooth bomber to jazz up casual culottes and a basic white T or equally throw over your shoulders with a slinky floor-length dress for a look of ultimate, effortless chic.

C is for creative campaigns
Simple but effective appears to be the motto. The eye-catching collage ad on the left is so ingenious that you'd want to rip it out of a magazine and stick it on your fridge. They've also dabbled with a more crisp approach to photography elevated by bold colour and allowing typography to have its time in the spotlight. Not to be overshadowed by a zippy leather glove and an unassuming finger gesture.

D is for denim
In 1997, co-founder Jonny Johansson (we'll get to him at J) created one hundred pairs of raw, unisex denim jeans with red stitching and gave them away to his closest chums. Wallpaper and Vogue Paris quickly picked up on the popularity of the jeans and this exposure allowed Acne Studios to blossom, rapidly expanding their fashion offering outside of denim as a result.

E is for eyewear
Acne's always made eyewear pieces but last year marked its first full first collection of shades, striking the brand's signature balance of wearable and avant-garde. The seven unisex styles include updated models of classics, like the Aviator, alongside the new oval-shaped Mustang. It doesn't take a genius to guess which style is a nod to one Kurt Cobain.

F is for frasse
Frasse is the son of Creative Director, Johnny, and appeared AW15 Womenswear campaign for his Dad's brand at the tender age of 11. What did the youngster have to say about the experience? “It is cool to be so young and get the opportunity to do such an awesome thing. (But) it was a bit annoying that everyone wanted to fix my hair and stuff.” Oh to be 11, getting your hair fixed while starring in an Acne campaign.

G is for gentleman's jewellery
In collaboration with All_Blues, four minimalist pieces: two bracelets and two rings were designed from 100% recycled silver and presented in two finishes. The two Swedish brands looked to the likes of architects Christian Halleröd, Angelo Mangiarotti and Carlo Scarpa as well as publishing houses Birkäser and Lars Müller for design inspiration.

H is for helima patchwork
The "Helima" is a mini dress with trippy patchwork art in lamb leather - my favourite piece from the Resort 2016 collection. While the shape is suitably sixties, the patterns across the whole collection made you feel like you were looking at the Arts & Crafts movement through the kaleidoscopic goggles of a diehard minimalist.

I is for imagery
Despite reasonably thorough research, I'm riddled by where this image came from and what its actual use was... a campaign shot, an image for social media, a website display, a magazine shoot? That said, it's captivating, ingenious and more than deserving of a place in the Visual Alphabet of Acne Studios.

J is for jonny johansson
Despite originally being a musician and having no traditional fashion education, Johansson has magic'd up an achingly refreshing brand from thin air. “It is not about delivering ideas or dreams, it’s about making them physical. And that’s a big challenge.” A challenge conquered at that.

K is for kei purse
The Kei purse is ideal for those days when you don't really need a bag, just a few cards and a bit of cash - just in case. Having this bad boy swinging from your wrist and your phone in your pocket, you're ready to rumble and I bet you could even squeeze in a lipstick if you got tactical with it.

L is for leather jackets
It's already common knowledge that a good leather jacket is a wise investment so to expand on this point any further would be edging insult territory.

M is for menswear
A sporty spin on contemporary tailoring and minimal shapes, complemented by the complete nailing of both basics and trend pieces. On the note of trend pieces, before Gucci's furry loafers came Acne's all-consuming fur slippers. Just sayin'.

N is for norrmalmstorg nightmare
Acne Studios' Stockholm flagship store on Norrmalmstorg was the location of the 1973 bank robbery and hostage situation that gave rise to the term "Stockholm Syndrome". SS (let's call it that for short) is the psychological phenomenon where hostages express empathy and sympathy, leading to positive feelings toward their captors. 

O is for "oh my god, I love your bag"
I don't have an Acne bag but if i did, I really think that I'd hear this phrase every time I wore it.

P is for pink to make the boys wink
Boxes, bags, labels, posters, appointment cards, billboards. Think pink, think Acne. They should consider that as a legitimate slogan.

Q is for quintessentially acne
A pair of boots, crafted from the most subtle of black leathers, handcrafted in Italy with firm elasticated inserts and the perfect height of heel. They go with pretty much every outfit, they're comfortable, they're everything you could ever want from a classic pair of boots.

R is for Red Velvet Patch of Perfection
This is my favourite piece from the SS16 collection. I'm a sucker for red and a sucker too for velvet but I've found that both at the same time can be overwhelming and a little too pimp-couch-esque. Having both on a jacket that maintained an elegant subtlety is something that I don't think I'll see again, ever.

S is for statement sweaters
They come in all shapes and sizes, from wearing you feminist heart on your sleeve - I mean, chest - to wearing all the scarves you own at once. They really provide something for everyone and raise the stakes in the game of chic comfort.

T is for timeless trainers
Shoes have a way with subtle branding that makes them completely identifiable and recognisable as that of the respective brand. Louboutin's red soles, Manolo's bejewelled buckle, Miu Miu's sparkly sneaker cap, Gucci's horesebit, Chanel's two-tone and Acne's squared smiley.

U is for underwear memos
Shot by Ryan McGinley and presented in 6 short ‘acts’ The Underwear Memos keeps things simple as each video is soundtracked by a telephone message and features characters in action against a single-color backdrop, while of course sporting pieces from the underwear collection.

V is for velocite jacket
This oversized jacket is lined with an achingly soft shearling that's concealed by the suede outer. The straps and belt are a heavy cow leather and the collar, cuffs, and hem are exposed shearling. Two diagonal zippered pockets, topstitched, 100% lamb fur... this isn't a sales pitch, I swear.

W is for west village store
Acne's second flagship store in NYC opened in the West Village's Eighth Avenue a few months ago, designed by architect Sophie Hicks who also designed the Seoul store. The allure of the building itself draws attention to contrasting parallels that crop up across the brand; like the strong metal, incredibly clinical build-out that's swallowed up by a red brick exterior.

X is for XXL trousers
The latest collection was a subversion of traditional proportions where the burly punk rocker silhouette was transformed with these billowing trousers in heavy mohair and PVC among other fabrics. Falling off the hips, sagging at the crotch and gathering at the ankle, they looked at least 3 sizes too big but it was an intriguing experiment in form.

Y is for yep, I need these chairs
Pictured here in the Tokyo store, these plush, pink platforms of pure comfort are nearly inviting enough to draw you away from the surrounding garments and accessories. Nearly.

Z is for zine
Sitting currently at 15 issues, Acne Paper is the bi-annual magazine founded in 2005. It merges the historical and the contemporary to communicate the philosophy of the wider ACNE collective.