In readiness for its unveiling to the public, the new Acne Studio on Dover Street's windows are covered in a collage of pages from the Acne Paper, the brand's bi-annual magazine - just one of the collective's many different creative ventures. The store takes over four floors of what was once a house before it became a gallery. 'Ever since we formed Acne, we always talked about a house with different levels of creativity to house all of our artistic endeavours, says Jonny Johansson. 'We have the house in Stockholm - a large old bank once owned by the Wallenberg family - and to be able to recreate that in Mayfair was one of my absolute dreams.'
The menswear floor
This floor is home to artworks by Jean Cocteau - 'we work with him a lot as a reference for the main collection,' says the creative director - and a piano that will be used for live music at weekends. Music is very important to Johansson, who was a guitarist in several bands before founding Acne and is currently learning the piano. Is he tempted to come and have a play? 'Maybe... if I'm feeling strong enough.'
The menswear floor
Mannequins in the window of the new store
The womenswear floor
At one end of the womenswear floor is a dramatic series of three screens, painted by Jeremiah Goodman. The illustrator recreated scenes from Johansson's office in Stockholm. 'A stylist friend of mine gave me his book and I fell in love with his illustrations,' he says, pointing out the tome on a stool. 'To wish for something and get exactly what you wanted is just fantastic.'
The womenswear floor
Spread around the store are sofas from Acne's new furniture collection. Their sloping forms and proportions are based on perspective studies of Carl Malmsten's 1930s 'Nya Berlin' sofa. 'It was really interesting researching the history of Swedish furniture,' says Johansson. 'I also wanted to bring our approach to fashion to furniture. We work more as neoclassicists than modernists with our fashion collections, which we've translated to furniture design.' New pieces are soon to be added to the collection, which currently also includes a drawing table.
The denim floor
The white walls throughout the building are softened by typically Scandinavian pine flooring. 'I like things that weather over time, just like jeans,' the creative director explains. Dispersed around this floor are artworks by the likes of Katerina Jebb, including a self portrait, signed by Hugh Hefner. 'Katerina is a friend of ours and I wanted her to be part of this store. Her work suits the rawness of the denim department.'
The denim floor
'When I created these floors, I wanted them to relate to friends that I have worked with or people I admire,' says Johansson. To that end, giant eagle-inspired sculptures by Helmut Lang take pride of place at one end of the room. 'Helmut, who now works as an artist, was one of the most important designers for me, inspiration-wise. When I started becoming interested in fashion for real, there was a little store in Sweden that sold his clothing and I felt a million dollars in it. Helmut was one of the first people that I really admired.'
With its abundance of natural light and high ceilings, this space on the top floor - which leads onto the terrace - most obviously speaks of its past. Shoes and accessories are displayed on plinths before a giant screen, made for Acne by Stockholm City Theatre. 'I wanted something that was a bit scenic and would emphasise the height of the ceiling,' he says. 'I also love materials that have a certain rawness. Perhaps that's the Swede in me.' Everything in this space is moveable, which will enable it to be used for meetings and occasionally relaxing with a glass of champagne.
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Acne Studio's ambitious new store in London covers four floors of a former gallery in Mayfair. The Swedish brand's first UK outpost, it's a minimalist white temple, with artworks by the likes of Helmut Lang, Katerina Jebb and Husam el Odeh, a piano for live music at weekends and a roof terrace. 'The space feels very modern. When we stumble across it, I was fascinated to see whether we could live in this kind of environment,' says Jonny Johansson, creative director of the brand, whose diverse stores range from a former bank in Stockholm to a pop-inspired space in New York. Here he takes us on a tour of the new store.
'Acne isn't like some brands, whose concept is so all encompassing, they can just surround themselves with their world and roll this out wherever they are,' says Jonny Johansson. Something very different from previous stores was required for Acne's London space. 'I thought to myself, "An art gallery - that's really difficult. We're not creating art. It's not in our DNA." But I like a challenge.'
Asked if he's expecting his fashion collections to be venerated like artworks, he says: 'I see your point and I'm afraid of it.' But Acne - most famous for its jeans - is far too down to earth for this kind of posturing. 'What we have here is a gallery space that's a shop, not a gallery. Halfway through the project I kind of regretted choosing it because it's essentially a white cube, but the space felt right and there are a lot of galleries in the neighbourhood so I think it suits the area very well.'
Acne's stores now number in their twenties - quite an empire for a brand that was only born in 1996. It started out as an advertising agency and loose collective making film and music under the name Ambition to Create Novel Expressions. Now, as well as the fashion label, there's also a furniture collection, a children's toy division, a production company and the celebrated Acne Paper magazine. Next up? A Paris store in an altogether different setting: a converted garage in the Marais.