The subversive musician soundtracked this season’s Acne Studios show – we joined her in a subterranean boudoir to get the lowdown
Anniversaries are supposed to be romantic affairs, but ten years in, you’ve kind of got to pull out all the stops to create the vibe. That’s just what Acne Studios did to celebrate a decade of showing in Paris this Wednesday, transforming their SS23 runway into a pale pink wedding party soundtracked by an “avant harp collective” composed of Eartheater and her friends LEYA. Eartheater, aka Alexandra Vigorsky, has similarly spent a decade creating both haunting music, with albums like Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin, and an otherworldly image, with her minutely tweezed eyebrows and love of a fantasy-meets-nightclub get up. She fit in perfectly amongst the guests sitting on bedspreads, huge shell candelabra erupting from the set and Kylie Jenner on the front row; the collection itself channelled all this surreal sweetness into a confection of bows and lace punctuated by spiky accessories.
Before the show, Eartheater was in a suitably celebratory mood, awaiting performance-inspiring wine while having her hair tightly pinned back. Friends with Adam and Marilu of LEYA since they were teenagers, they found themselves graduating from the “mouldy dusty basement scene” to the basement of the Palais de Tokyo (which itself is decidedly not mouldy). “We got really close when we went on tour. We were in a van for three weeks all over the US.” In fact, “We had a very protracted psychedelic experience that bonded us, and we all lost touch with reality aside from Alex,” says Adam. “You were taking care of seven people having a bad trip. I have never been so grateful for you in that moment, and felt so loved.” Let the harp sing, for love is in the air!
The clothes too were a love story of epic proportions. A gown made from pale blue ribbons woven around and falling off the body; red hearts exploding into a stretchy dress; pillows as clothes and nude lace tops worn with hot pants. Against all this pastel sweetness, bags had eye-pokingly sharp spikes, while footwear was of the heavy booted variety, or otherwise bedroom friendly clogs (in that they are extremely easy to take off). The rich symbolism of love and lovemaking in all its forms was woven into a gorgeous, fully realised show that seemed fast paced even when walked to a harp soundtrack.
Eartheater and LEYA kindly invited us into their subterranean green room ahead of the show to discuss the intense vibration of the harp, mushroom trips, and what makes the perfect runway music.
Tell me more about this psychedelic experience that cemented your friendship!
Eartheater: I’m a trip mom, I always ending up being the trip mom! At the time I was supporting myself by selling acid, mushrooms and marijuana. And I had three different types of really crazy mushrooms and I gave all three of them to all of you guys. I felt fine.
Adam Markiewicz: People were thinking they were going to give birth and aliens were coming to get their children. But we were in this infinity pool on a private island. I was pretty young and I just thought the whole time that the cops were going to come, I would go to jail forever, and then my parents would come.
Eartheater: And to balance the dichotomy of that psychological meltdown, and the glamour of being on this private island, the rest of the tour we slept in broken down Fedex trucks in fields, or a warehouse with a pet skunk. The Tennessee show was terrifying.
Today’s soundtrack is harp heavy – which we love. Why do you love that sound?
Eartheater: My first album, the first song is a harp sound arpeggiated. I want to make spiral staircases of octaves, and Marilu provides that organically with her spider fingers, so I kidnapped her pretty quickly and took her on tour with me. I’ve probably toured with Marilu more than anyone else.
Marilu Donovan: Even if you pluck a string, the whole thing is shaking. As little kids we’d laugh, like, “It’s vibrating on me”, but that’s how it feels.
Eartheater: Even the way I play guitar I’m trying to make it sound like a harp.
How did you come to work with Acne Studios?
Adam Markiewicz: We made an EP in 2019, but it was a Christmas release, and we put it out and went our separate ways. And so actually this music has never been performed, and Acne Studios reached out this year, and we were looking for us all to play together! It’s amazing to debut it at a fashion show because of the logistics involved in getting us all on one stage.
Marilu Donovan: It was perfect timing as we’re all always on the road. And we’re all in Europe right now.
Eartheater: This is the perfect way to finally play this music live.
Have you had to reconfigure it at all?
Eartheater: We’ve definitely designed it to fit the show.
Adam Markiewicz: It’s an arrangement specifically for Acne. You’re collaborating, both parties need to be fully happy. The presentation is so much more crystallised than your average gig. You really want it to be as prismed as possible for documentation purposes.
Eartheater: I feel like we speak the same language.
Most importantly what are you wearing?
Marilu Donovan: We’re trying to synchronise with Alex without being matchy-matchy. It’s very dreamscape-y, there are lots of bows, it’s ethereal. Alex and I are both wearing a beautiful sheer, pink moment. And Adam is juxtaposed in a gorgeous pin stripe suit and a top with different bows all over it.
And the show space?
Adam Markiewicz: The candelabras are an absolute fantasy, I really hope they give me one. I want to live on one of those candelabras.
Marilu Donovan: Alien bedroom of my dreams.
How does that respond to the record?
Eartheater: They share high attention to detail. Sonically and visually. And it’s deeply romantic.
How do you think your performance will influence the models’ walks?
Eartheater: [laughing] They’ll be crying! The tears of the models before shall lubricate the trail!