This week, Cheap Monday celebrates the opening of its first London shop at Selfridges. i-D online hit up the label’s spring/summer 2012 show at Stockholm Fashion Week, and spoke to its illustrious designer, Ann-Sofie Back.
When we previewed Cheap Monday’s spring/summer 2012 collection a few days before heading to Stockholm Fashion Week for the show last week, we couldn’t help but feel a slight early 1990s nostalgia: there’s nothing like above-the-knee denim shorts, cropped bomber jackets and tight lace tops to evoke that wholesome Beverly Hills 90210 feeling. (Kelly Taylor, is that you?) But as Ann-Sofie Back – the eminent Swedish avant-garde designer, who took over the helm at Cheap Monday three seasons ago – would tell us, her intentions were nothing of the sort. “Everyone says it’s early 1990s! What is that? Why?” Back laughs, her voice echoing in the futuristic aluminium-clad pavilion Cheap Monday have raised for their show in a forest den outside of Stockholm. “We took inspiration from a late-1960s’ silhouette: the A-line shape, the flared trousers. That kind of look. We didn’t mean for it to look early 1990s, but if that’s what people get from it, I don’t mind,” she says.
Over the decade-long course of her highly praised career, Back has gained a bit of a reputation for an unusual reference. Past eponymous collections have referenced themes including Second Life, cosmetic surgery, and dildos, and her ready-to-wear shows were famously shown back-to-front, starting with the finale and closing with the opening look. Since signing on as co-Creative Director at Cheap Monday, Back has, however, changed her ways, “I’ve been learning to understand this part of fashion better. I’ve been watching other people, and also, my assistant tells me off quite often… ‘Oh no, not that. That’s too difficult. No one would wear that’”, she says, mimicking the voice of a concerned assistant. Considering we’re dealing with the woman who once made a dress which was meant to look like Freddie Krueger had cut it up, the concern is hardly surprising. Yet, with her spring/summer 2012 collection for Cheap Monday, Back has managed to find the perfect balance between interesting and commercially viable.
“I like trends. They keep fashion moving. Obviously I don’t like all trends, but they keep you on your toes, and we do consider trends in our work,” Back says, her boss, Cheap Monday founder and Creative Director for jeans, Örjan Andersson, nodding in agreement. “I’m trying to think of a street trend I like,” Back ponders. Andersson laughs: “I can’t think of one either! But, you know, I do the jeans collection so at the moment I’m of course looking at the 1970s and the 1960s, the high waists and all that.” What Back has brought to Cheap Monday is her gift for adding a sense of hyper-modernity to whatever she touches. Much like how she’ll place an impossible and incredible metal ring on a buoyant evening dress from her London-based demi-couture line Ann-Sofie Back Atelje, every piece she creates for Cheap Monday gets a similar treatment. There’s always an unpredictable element, like spring/summer 2012’s bright orange jumpers or blue-soled shoes.
This week, Cheap Monday opens its first shop at Selfridges’ men’s department in London, the denim brand’s second shop since its launch in 2004. (The other one is located in Copenhagen, although the brand is Swedish.) While Cheap Monday has always maintained its profile as a reasonably priced purveyor of youthwear, its brand value is anything but cheap. “The skull t-shirts are the best-sellers. We’ll never stop doing them,” Back comments, while trying to prevent her Boston terrier, Beverly, from running away, “Beverly is fed up with fashion week,” she says.
Indeed, ever since any self-respecting teenager started wearing their skinny jeans in the mid-2000s, skulls and denim have remained the core of Cheap Monday. As for the potential return of the boot-cut jean, Back is fearful: “It makes me scared to think about, but you can always go to Gothenburg,” she says dryly, referring to the middle-sized Swedish town. “Boot-cut jeans never went out of fashion there.”
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Styling Anthony Stephinson
Art Direction Andres Ros Soto
Artwork Giles Round
Hair Michael Jones using Bumble and Bumble
Make-up Nami Yoshida using MAC Cosmetics
Photographer’s Assistant Akemi Kurosaka
Models Caroline Mead at IMG London and Jed Texas at Elite London
Special thanks to Laura Dooley