As guests arrived at the 21 Club on the evening of Friday, March 28, for a party celebrating the opening in Soho of Acne Jeans’ first American store two days earlier, the Stockholm-based label’s creative director, Jonny Johansson, sat cross-legged in a plush red banquette, talking with the Transom about denim.
“If you had to choose one garment today that’s the most important garment in fashion, I would say it’s a basic pair of jeans,” he said in his thick Swedish accent. “I love the generic five pockets and the whole idea that it once was a work-wear pant.”
The Acne party, however, was quite lavish; attendees included singer Ryan Adams, actress Chloë Sevigny and newly appointed Interview editor Christopher Bollen. Billed as a masked ball (not everyone played along), it featured roasted ham, Spandex-clad court jesters contorting on the floor, and a woman dressed in the aristocratic trappings of 18th-century Versailles who circulated the room in the center of a mobile hors d’oeuvre table. At one point, a butch drag-queen Cher emerged to perform “If I Could Turn Back Time,” much to the ironic enjoyment of the stylish hipsters encircling her.
The unfortunately named brand, an acronym for “Ambition 2 Create Novel Expressions,” encompasses film, Web production, toys and a biannual cultural magazine called Acne Paper. “They’ve always been at the forefront of jean fits,” said Humberto Leon, the co-owner of Opening Ceremony, a downtown boutique that has partnered with the company. Indeed, Acne launched its first skinny jean in 1998, back when everyone else was still in boot cuts. “They’re very simple, very cool. Very indie,” Ms. Sevigny told the Transom, in between sips of a martini. She was wearing a black mask with cat whiskers—rowr!—and said she’d first slipped into a pair of Acne jeans on a photo shoot last year.
Mr. Johansson, meanwhile, was sporting a slim straight-leg model called the Mic, with a pair of yellow Yves Saint Laurent sneakers and a black Ralph Lauren sport coat. “I mean, it’s simplicity,” he said. “Fashion doesn’t have to be eccentric to be interesting.”