When a designer states that a collection is inspired by God in contemporary society, that fabrics are 'self-satisfied' with a 'holy look' and that creases in a skirt are inspired by the tablecloth of The Last Supper, you know you're not in Kansas anymore. You may, however, be in London, where Ann-Sofie Back decided to once again show her collection on the fashion week catwalk.
Unlike many a pretension-loaded predecessor, however, Back doesn't take this fashion malarky seriously. You often get a sense of gigantic quotation-marks hovering around her stated reference-points - you sometimes get them around the clothes too, but this time they were clean and clear. 'God is in the details', or so the saying goes, and Back found God in a collection that poked fun at austerity. That's a brave thing to do in a time where Minimalism has become a new fashion religion.
Back's collection was stripped back to austere basics - there was a monastic air to raw-edged, below-the-knee dresses. Well, you say monastic I say Jehovah's Witness. The intentionally frumpy mid-calf hemlines evoked that too, alongside the linen-woven. homespun appearance of Back's fabrics. The hardcore pressed creased were an obtuse stab at religious garb - but those folds also seem a clever solution to the paradox of minimal decoration. Clever and funny - just like the sheer socks that popped above pointy-point patent stilettos, the kind a good girl would never wear to church.
In her return to the catwalk, Back unveiled not one line but two. That crypto-religious stuff was for 'Atelje', her high-end line - BACK is her straightforward, straight-cut number. We won't use the phrase diffusion, although Back does allow ideas to seep from the main to this secondary collection. This time, the big story was a belt, skinny, patent and pulled through every look - dresses, skirts, tailoring, the lot. That, the standout darts and boning details are all derived from Ann-Sofie collections past. Back to Back basics, you may say. It works. It also perhaps expresses Back's discomfort with the fashion system, the first-but-worst rip-off culture of high fashion to high street trickle-down. Back has it down pat - who better to rip you off than yourself?