Originally Published in vogue.com
Like Mary in the nursery rhyme, Ann-Sofie Back is quite contrary. Her approach to design is tenacious, if not combative. Each season she tackles a subject, silhouette, or theme that she dislikes and tries to come to terms with it. She also said, in the notes to her Spring collection, that the brand is “built on the concept of self-referencing”—or reworking ideas from past collections. Looking backward to move forward is something that we’ve also seen from other designers, including Prada, in this nostalgia-laden season.
The Spring 2017 collection was scheduled to be shown in Paris, but the presentation was canceled at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. (This reviewer saw it in Back’s Stockholm studio.) The designer explained that she began this season by revisiting her Wild West–themed Fall 2005 lineup, a fan favorite that she nevertheless has always viewed very critically, calling it “my absolute hate collection.” In any case, Back’s mission was to figure out what went right and wrong.
She couldn’t have picked a better time to revisit this section of her archive. Western tropes are a major theme this season, so hers seem very on point—even if their genesis is unique. The Spring collection is not a redo of Fall 2005; rather, Back used the latter as a springboard, channeling the West with gingham checks and generously proportioned leather jackets, and then giddily expanding her Americana theme to include Miami, a city the designer has never visited but which appeals to her as “a cliché.” It’s “an unreal place,” she said, “the opposite of genuine—and I like that!” Back referenced the sunny city’s ebullience with soft tie-dyes and a palette that included poison greens and pink, which she described as a “problematic color.” Look more closely and you’ll also find palm-tree motifs as well as that of a hybrid mascot dubbed a “monster flamingo.”
Also subtly worked into this strong collection were sports references: ski/stirrup pants, sports sock–like cuffs, and hoodie-inspired pieces, including some great dresses. Contrasting with these casual, street-smart knit looks were more structured ones, like car coats, both checked and solid, with rounded backs. These, said Back, represent “an ’80s take on ’50s clothes.” (More back-to-go-forward action.)For Spring, Back updated her signature jeans with exaggerated knee details, adding a high-waist and belt detailing. They deserve a second look—through the designer’s trendy B sunglasses or otherwise. Those jeans have a marvelously original silhouette that is also very photogenic, and they’re sure to have everyone asking: “Who made those?” In other words, they’re a find.