Despite velvet’s consistent presence on catwalks each year for the colder months, this season designers have succeeded in giving it a new lease of life. In 2020’s Autumn/ Winter collections, velvet was an interesting trend, appearing on the catwalks of Celine, Chanel, Haider Ackermann and Acne. Velvet, as Acne proved, is a fluid and adaptable material, which can feel simultaneously antique and contemporary.
The warm hues and rich-toned heavy velvet that features in Acne’s collection is redolent of the drapes in a bohemian 19th-century domestic interior or framing the stage of an old theatre. The clothes themselves are slouchy, oversized and include surprising touches, from frayed hems and ruching to fading and distressed effects that resemble sunlight-faded vintage curtains.
This year, creative director and co-founder Jonny Johansson says that the team have reimagined couture forms so that they are “non-modern, like ‘wrong’ fashion”. This sense of something ‘wrong’ or off-kilter was manifested in the fashion show, where a wall separated the men and women’s fashion above which a massive mirror tilted back and forth. Johansson elaborated: “Fashion seems to be in this in-between moment, where it’s referring to history a lot and we’re trying to get to the future… The wall could also be going backwards because we don’t know what’s coming next, but something is coming”. This tension between classic and modern is also at play in the velvet designs, in which the boundaries between unisex and feminine are also disrupted.
But there is something glorious about the mismatch. This is seen in the tie-dyed velvet parka coat, the fitted bodice disfigured by ruching, the beautifully crafted soft velvet trousers that are so long they carelessly trail on the ground. Acne’s velvet certainly has its fans – as proof, Adele was pictured recently wearing this sumptuous velvet Acne shirt on her stint as host on Saturday Night Live.