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Report: Stockholm Fashion Week SS14

Swedish fashion is well and truly grabbing our attention. Stepping off the plane in Stockholm you are hit by a barrage of effortless utilitarian street style, an ultra-groomed version of the eclectic London hipster. And the designers themselves do not disappoint. Since the cult success of Acne, Sweden has become a stronghold of covetable and, crucially, wearable lines that has made it the go to for buyers and press alike. We also get the sense that fashion is becoming more seriously considered as a  viable form of cultural expression – after all the government-issued Illis Quorum Meruere Labores honour was awarded to Pär Engsheden this year, the first time a designer has ever been given the prize.  These elements came together with aplomb for SS14’s fashion week, resulting in a diverse mix of bold textures, unpredictable elements and a huge diversity of design. Here are my top five of the week.

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Fashion is definitely having a playful moment. You only need look at poster girls like Cara Delevigne to see that fashion is becoming more an expression of personality rather than a tick the box conformity to the trend of the moment.  This mood of the moment was no more apparent than at Bea Szenfeld’s tongue in cheek offering – ‘Haute Papier’.
Her unique concept of a collection entirely imagined in paper was a study in the fun side of fashion. A giant concertinaed ape, casually slung around a model’s body elicited ripples of laughter through the audience, whilst giant cartoonish headpieces were a nod to the Japanese pop culture influences that are permeating even the most established of the fashion pack (think Marc Jacobs’ neon animal accessories of recent times).
However in the midst of all the jollity it would be remiss to overlook the immense skill in the construction of Szenfeld’s architectural creations. True the sight of two models sidestepping onto the runway, restricted by their double necked collar of intricate flowers sparked a wave of amusement through the audience, however as they began to move in tandem the overall effect was one of ethereal whimsy and beauty. The intricacy of the designs in all their origamic splendour allowed the garments to transcend their usually banal medium and take on a vibrancy and movement that bordered on surrealism. A particular standout was a white dress created from folds upon folds and waves upon waves of paper that felt almost couture.
Whether it was haute couture papier-mache or simply an exercise in bending the rules, we left Szenfeld’s show with smiles on our faces and an unexplainable desire to don a giant pair of ears forthwith.

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Another designer to play with texture, albeit taking a more subtle approach to the medium, was Ida Sjostedt in her imagining of ‘Dream Girls Part 2’. Avid fans of Sjostedt’s ‘Dream girls part one’ offering from SS13, would surely have been gratified with reams of glittering pastels, shimmering appliquéd flowers and even a rainbow coat entirely constructed in fur. However for those who were looking for a little bite in this saccharine universe there were elements of sophistication that felt like a new maturation of Sjostedt’s uber-feminine aesthetic. Elegant light yellow dresses and blouses felt clean and fresh in amongst the intricate lace detailing of other looks, whilst injections of a darker palette on tailored outerwear made for a refreshing change. A particular standout was a textured lightweight coat in shades of plum, berry and cream – definitely one for the wish list.

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On the other end of the stylistic spectrum was Cheap Monday’s artificial grunge aesthetic.  Oversized shapes, appliqué patches, slogan t-shirts and a whole lot of denim channelled a distinctly 90’s street vibe reminiscent of bold artists of the era.  The motto of the show was ‘more is more’ and it was most certainly achieved with injections of vibrant colour, print on print and a spontaneous use of texture – see the high shine gold trench that held a certain magpie appeal. Confident, exaggerated and unapologetic this collection Cheap Monday firmly on the map.

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The master of the classic Scandinavian silhouette – clean, sharp, groomed to perfection – presented an elegantly paired back collection of tailored seperates for SS14. The inspiration was Ingemar Bergman’s ‘Through the glass darkly’ with a nod to the architectural constructions of Rem Koolhas and this was translated onto the catwalk through the use of diverse textures (linen, cotton, heavy suede, leather and nylon) along with a steely colour palette with accents of mineral pink. Elsewhere there were surprises – raw edges where one would expect the sharpest of lines, a relaxed cut on blazers along with curved, boned lines along hips adding sensuality to classic tailoring. The overall effect was one of sartorial androgyny with injections of energetic prints that felt very relevant to the street style lining the pavements of Stockholm.

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A study of changing moods between day time and night time in Stockholm’ was the inspiration behind the House of Dagmar’s day in the life of a Swedish style maven.  Breezy light fabrics in shades of nude and pastels opened the collection in the form of beautifully tailored seperates and sheer layered dresses. Moving on through the Dagmar day saw the introduction of toughening accents – the addition of a large leather belt to a sheer jacket with billowing train was a particular standout.  Gradually the delicate layers were replaced altogether by Dagmar’s take on a Stockholm night; heavy structured knits that almost resembled chainmail paired with noisy graphic dresses constructed from the finest of knits sat alongside leather miniskirts and a stunning floor length coat, its bold print offset by the lightest of chiffon fabric.
Aesthetic aside, the pieces themselves deserve merit. The crispest of white shirts paired with printed trousers felt very pertinent whilst a beautifully tailored apricot pyjama – style suit was the essence of elegant sophistication.

All images courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

- Milly Edgerley

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