Fashion's cycle is relentless, demanding not only a renewal but complete reinvention of ideas on a six-monthly basis (and in these days of pre-fall and cruise, often even sooner). Nevertheless, one of the wonderful things of his constant demand for new inspiration is that, once in a while, it allows an established name to astound you. This was the case with Ann-Sofie Back, whose Autumn/Winter 2009 collection was astute, accomplished and quite possibly her best to date. Back was inspired by Americano - but not of the blue jeans and chinos variety. Back looked to horror flicks for her kicks, referencing The Exorcist, Psycho and Poltergeist on her soundtrack alone. The clothes were similarly horrific - but as with those classic films, the fear is part of the thrill. Back's girls had wild hair, whited faces and eyes reduced to pinpricks by contact lenses, all the better to underline the savagery of her designs. Velvet and bleached-out denim were slashed, sliced, fettered and frayed into tube dresses and oversized jackets, layering layers of lacerations like scar tissue. Overcoats and high-waisted herringbone peg trousers were scarred with zips, and Sissy Spacek's 'Carrie' prom dress was given a work-out in lacerated white lace, accompanied by 'bleeding' red-eyed sunglasses. American baseball jackets and bodycon dresses were severed and then anatomically laced back together, Silence of the Lambs style. The feather trims and lather cording, stolen from dream-catchers and the old Amityville chestnut of the Indian Burial ground under the lounge floor, added another intricate touch of work to these relatively simple shapes. The themes may have been somewhat shocking - and refreshingly so - but equally arresting was just how much Back managed to step up her game with this show. It was inventive, intriguing, sinister, abhorrent and utterly mesmerising in equal proportion.
The clothes were similarly horrific - but as with those classic films, the fear is part of the thrill.