Saturday, February 16, 2008


London Fashion Week might have finished off with the grand dame of British fashion – Vivienne Westwood - but it started with the unofficial Queen of Swedish fashion. Ann-Sofie Back is in many ways the total opposite of the fierce redhead. While Westwood is outspoken, loud, political and photographed pretending to have diarrhoea in her ad campaign, Back prefers to let the clothes do the talking. Her Scandinavian shyness even prevented her from making a post catwalk appearance on Sunday evening.

And when many designers try to justify their collections with pretentious and long winding press releases (Gareth Pugh: “Dorothy going back to Oz and killing all the monkeys”. Louise Goldin: “A cavalcade of futuristic Eskimos heralding a new era in knitwear”.), Back decided to draw inspiration from a current and annoying phenomena, one that not only enrage the designer, but also leaves the rest of us speechless. She commented on the paparazzi hysteria that surrounds media darlings such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The collection was a reaction to the taste and knickers less photos in Heat and drunken antics documented in Ok! Magazine.

A-S cleverly showed off her diffusion line, BACK, in conjunction with the mainline. It was probably due to financial reasons but it allowed the Swede to show a full wardrobe, rather than just her more avantgarde and extravagant threads. Now, sexy red silk dresses shared the stage with skinny black jeans and T-shirts with boob prints, blurred out with pixels as a reference to how gossip magazines treat celebrities showing off their genitals.

Back continued to express her disgust by sending out a model in a red see-through dress, exposing breasts and taking the concept of VPL to a new level. Incidentally, knickers also featured in Westwood’s show on Thursday night, as she made her opinions clear with Agent Provocateur underwear, baring the slogan Fair Trail – My Arse.

What looked like dresses, T-shirts and gloves covered in Swarovski crystals was really oversized piercings and referenced the use of such body ornaments by Paris Hilton. Other oversized items included the classic Back suit jacket, which came in grey felt. Smiling models created a confident 1980’s yuppie feeling, which the music kept up, until it lost the plot and weird sound effects started to irritate the audience in the Topshop/New Generation venue.

The tone was sexy, which is normally not Back’s domain. Red and white silk was frequently used. Many garments came in neutral blacks and greys but a few turquoise pieces kept the mood up. One of her stronger pieces was a part biker jacket, part poncho. All in all Ann-Sofie Back cemented her position as Sweden’s biggest and brightest fashion star, albeit a shy and introvert one. She will never be in Dame Westwood’s fame league, but that was probably never her ambition.

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