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Laid-back Swedish luxury for L.A. – Acne Studios new downtown flagship

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So here’s another party I was late to – make that missed entirely…. Oh that’s right…. I wasn’t invited. (Insert petulant pout here.) The store is definitely party-ready – or maybe ready to make its customers party-ready. Consider the unstructured loosely tailored suits in gold and silver foil stamped linen glinting and gleaming in the windows of the Eastern Columbia Building. (Some marching band should just buy a few hundred of these, costume their musicians in them and send them down Colorado Boulevard in the Rose Parade – there’s something about them that screams L.A., California, Hollywood Boulevard – you know, kick-back El Dorado. Please.) Yes, I’m talking about the new Acne Studios L.A. flagship filling 5,000 square feet on the west side of the building with Jonny Johansson’s signature eclectic style. A branch of his favorite espresso bar in Stockholm, Il Caffé, is on the other side of the building lobby.

What I love about Acne is the range of moods and attitudes available within what is already a fairly broad and flexible stylistic range: most all of them adaptable to a range of situations from very casual to work and business to evening or dressy for both men and women. There are the aforementioned unstructured jacket-and-jeans ‘suits’ bearing the imprint of Johansson’s earliest Acne denim lines. Then there are sleek and straightforward cotton-linen jackets with tailored collar and an almost perpendicular structure and symmetry emphasized by bold flanking vertical and horizontal pocket zippers – to pair with a matching similarly detailed skirt or mix with a softly draped asymmetric skirt in shantung silk or tapered trousers in cotton or wool blends. The skirts seem to be getting drape-ier through the resort and into the spring-summer lines; and I’m into it. I like the way Acne twists the axis to elongate and multiply the drape with latitude to tie it up at some point – casual, but with a kind of elegance.

I know what you’re thinking and I agree – but I like that droopiness. I mean what’s cozier than one of those long heathered blue cashmere or mohair sweaters? And Johansson can veer sharply in the other direction, too. There were a couple of sharply cut, almost minimalist motorcycle jackets, and a number of cropped looks (pants and jackets). But yeah – I sort of like the droop. I loved the Acne take on the Breton sailor shirt, slightly sheer with extra softness and drape and sheer charcoal stripes. They’ve also veered in recent seasons towards shape with a bit of volume. There was an orgasmic oversized orange or magenta jacket in burn-out velvet or some kind of fleecy wool embossed with a vaguely Japanese design of scalloped rolling clouds and scrolled waves. What wouldn’t you wear that with?

I also loved a lot of the menswear. Actually, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two lines – the androgynous versatility of the lines is something else to love. I’m not one for suits (to put it mildly), but I fell in love this loose rough-woven, tweedy raw silk-linen-cotton suit with lots of slubs and raw, slightly frayed lapels, cuffs, and edges in an off-white color that looked like dessicated bone. (Somebody please buy me one. That and a fantastically elegant black suede shift with the big zipper in the back would fill out my wardrobe for the entire season if not year.) And the shoes – flats, ankle booties, heels – were simply fantastic.

So you get that I went through the entire store (it's gorgeous, beautifully organized; and the service is fantastic) – and there was a lot to go through. This post was actually supposed to go up yesterday, but my internet was down, so I was unable to tantalize readers with one more garment worth snapping up for the evening’s festivities – namely a fantastic gown in organza, printed with scans of the interior tailoring and canvas of other vintage garments. (I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of any of the garments, but suffice to say that their deconstructed, proto-Cubistic aspect had an inherent appeal for me.) Elegant, versatile – I would have happily walked out in it myself; but I’m sad to report these pieces are on their way back to New York.

I don’t need to tell anyone on this first day of 2014 that the places to be last night here in Los Angeles (if not in the company of loved ones) were either of the two Standard Hotels. A Club Called Rhonda took over the downtown Standard – and we can assume that merriment – and the most fantastic looks – prevailed. Wishing you all a fulfilling new year to in which to push your style to the furthest edges of self-expression and hopefully beautify the world while you’re doing it.

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