Acid wash denim. Distressed jeans. Fine-knit leggings laden with ladders. Sky-high slits. Lace-up pants and exaggerated sleeves long enough to graze the knees. Fabrics slashed, frayed, stretched and splotchy, artfully ripped or tear-stricken with paint. These are the ingredients that made up Acne’s grungy-yet-vegetal fall 2023 collection, set against an otherworldly treescape inspired by natural cycles of growth and decay.
“Scandinavia is the kind of place where the city ends abruptly and then the pine forest begins,” explained creative director Jonny Johansson of the collection’s origin story. “I’ve always enjoyed the contrast between urban life and nature, the idea that an infinite forest is just around the corner.”
Even for city dwellers, that sentiment is compelling. Who isn’t looking to steal away from their screens and immerse themselves in the outdoors? In this collection, Johansson tasked himself with curating a wardrobe for those daring enough to do so in leather moto jackets reworked into all-in-ones and dresses held together with lace flowers, fabric manipulated into leaves and leaf-like prints. Decomposition alongside florescence. Clothing energised by inventive interpretations of life in rot and full bloom. Impractical, perhaps, but certainly imaginative and—in keeping with Acne’s superpowers of subversive design—propelled onlookers to rethink the kinds of clothing tradition has linked to nature.
While skirt suits spliced with fishnets and dresses with gaping holes felt a little well-worn for the runway, Johansson’s oversized outerwear in masculine silhouettes (see wool blazers with shoulder pads; floor-skimming herringbone coats; trenches with built-in scarves in the same fabric) hardly felt out of place, inviting wearers to rug up for cooler climates. Overall, the collection felt nostalgic—clinging to Acne’s roots in denim and leather—but also evolved, its removal from reality to a parallel universe ironically giving it fashion-forward appeal.