Runway report: Acne

In autumn-winter ‘12 according to Acne, we’ll all be wearing horse leather and stepping out in Spanx.

The cult Scandinavian brand turned to the body in art, the theme of the next issue of Acne Paper, for its London Fashion Week show.

That influence was most readily apparent in a strapless dress made of what looked like a patchwork of surgical girdles. Shown over a brown ribbed jumper, it constrained and re-contoured the model like high-fashion shapewear. What made it far lovelier than that may sound was the subtle tonal variation in the different meshes, from dove grey to beige to a fleshier blush.

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Leaving the body-modification overtones aside, the real takeaway was pigment-rich colour and the migration of materials to unexpected uses.

Stiff, high-gloss cordovan (we think), the horse leather usually used in high-end boots and handbags, here appeared as stiff centre-slit skirts, trousers and coats. The material offered an unyielding counterpoint to a softer cropped jacket with banana-shaped sleeves and a nubby, mandarin-collared blazer alike.

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The colour combinations were as invigorating as ever. Oxbloods with tangerines, pistachios with baby blues and neon greens, that same bright green with olive drab—even the oatmeals were exciting, because they had the Acne touch.

Still not sure? A quilted jacket with brown suede patches over a forest-green jersey pencil skirt—Acne does Barbour—hit all the right notes. So too did the dominatrix zips up back hems. Trousers consisting of snapped-together panels will be the louche street style look to beat next season. And odds are strong that the accessory everyone will use to tie it all together will be Acne’s wide, colour-blocked belts and distressed ponyskin Crocodile Dundee hats.

Designer Jonny Johansson treated the crowd to a Swedish folk song when he collected the Contemporary Brand of the Year prize at the ELLE Style Awards last week. His delight magnified by the end of the barnstorming Acne show, the designer couldn’t help but make a heart sign with his hands, and do a little jig.

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