Talk about losing something in translation. I know good and well that ACNE stands for Ambition to Create Novel Expression. Yet, the little bit of adolescent child that lingers inside me still giggles every time I see the label in the Paris line-up. The Stockholm-based collective still is only in its 18th year, though, not quite into adulthood itself. Who knows, maybe partnering with a facial astringent wouldn’t be a bad marketing move.

Being a collective, the design members behind the brand are frequently changing and as such are uncredited. As a result, we never really know what to expect and collections often come off as rather diverse. I’ve seen seasons where all one could do was scratch your head and wonder what they were smoking in that design room. This season, though, looks are a little more refined and some pieces hold strong possibilities for sales this fall.

What works best in this collection are the knit pieces with the ocean/surf swirl design. We see it first in a stole-wrapped fringed shawl, and then quickly in a couple of sweater dresses. The design keeps coming back every few looks in skirts, pants, shirts, and jackets. The look isn’t quite as strong when it is quilted, but its fluid motion adds tremendous strength to designs that would otherwise just be lost in the clutter.

There is also a tremendous amount of leather in this collection and where it is well-fitted, especially a red sleeveless jacket that appears early, it works well. However, it comes off as stiff and uncomfortable in a lot of the larger more minimalist designs.

Seeing a lot of minimalism in this collection isn’t really surprising, but unfortunately there’s not really anything dramatically different about these pieces to make them stand out. Okay, so they use a tiger-stripe print instead of leopard, or flip up the cuff on some sleeves; that really isn’t enough to get these rather pedestrian-looking designs to pop out in a crowd.

What doesn’t work are some of the accessories. There’s one particularly large neck piece that, so help me, when I saw it the first time would have sworn that they had put a toilet seat on the poor model. Fortunately, that’s not what they’ve done, but the similarity is too close to be ignored and wearing one out in public, especially in the Midwest, is setting oneself up for severe ridicule. The over-sized knit hats don’t work, either. In case they haven’t noticed, keeping things closer to the head is more preferable these days. No one likes being made to feel their head is bigger than it actually is.

While this Acne Studios collection is a bit of a mixed bag, it is still worthy of some consideration. There are a number of pieces that are done very well and could fit easily within one’s wardrobe. Take a look this fall and see what fits for you.

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