Kay Barron, Grazia’s fashion news editor, and I ran away to Stockholm last week to visit the Acne family. And what an amazing trip that was. They’ve had a winter that was way worse than ours was, but the sun came out for the Grazia girls. We arrived in time for a late lunch of seafood salad (you can’t visit Stockholm and not eat prawns, dill or beetroot) which we ate overlooking the sparkling water. I knew Stockholm was basically a lake bound archipelago but I really wasn’t prepared for how beautiful it was to be in a city and always so close to the water. It’s much less dense than Amsterdam and way less stinky than Venice.
For a capital, it’s small, only 1 million or so inhabitants. But I swear they are the handsomest million people you’ll find anywhere. Kay and I were embarrassingly Benny Hill for 48 hours.
The Acne gang, headed up by Jonny Johansson, started as a bunch of friends with an idea of a creative collective. When I was at university (a very long time ago), my friend Pamela Hunter and I set up a ‘Creative Collective’. Mostly we took a lot of pictures of each other and styled a video shoot for a band that used to rehearse in our living room. The collective then fell apart. But Johnny and the Acne family are living the dream. We visited them in their romantic head quarters: a 16 century bank building with an 18th century extension where Acne jeans, Acne ready to wear, Acne advertising, Acne films, Acne furniture all come to life.
What I bought
What started with Johnny wanting to design his perfect pair of jeans is now a major business but there is so much heart and soul here, it doesn’t begin to feel corporate. From the potted geraniums in their organic staff kitchen to the loft space filled with natural top light and crammed with buzzing creatives, it feels like the dream place to work.
What Kay bought
Of course we fitted in some shopping while we were there. The Acne flagship in Stockholm is another bank building. It’s the actual one where employees were held for five days in the famous siege in 1973, after which psychologists coined the term Stockholm Syndrome to describe how victims become emotionally attached to their captors. Kay and I kind of agreed that if we were captured by anyone we met in Stockholm we’d probably only shout the feeblest of cries for help.
And more of what I bought
You can have a fashion version of the Stockholm siege experience in the Acne store because the changing room is the vault where the gang holed up. True, the huge vault door no longer closes and is replaced by a curtain, for pricvacy. And you can hardly say that trying to struggle into a too small Lanvin for Acne dress measures up in terms of stress level but it’s the most interesting changing room experience I’ve ever had.
Acne’s London flagship opens on the 15th July. Look out for Kay Barron’s interview with Jonny Johannson in Grazia on the 6th.