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Lukas Mattson's anti-quiet luxury in "Succession"

The answer to the billionaires' wardrobe? The Swedish normcore

Lukas Mattson's anti-quiet luxury in Succession The answer to the billionaires' wardrobe? The Swedish normcore

Over the past five weeks, the fifth season of Succession has managed not only to score record ratings but also to reignite the debate around the issue of quiet luxury, on which commentators and fashion insiders (including us) have been embroidering quite a bit recent days. With the latest episode aired on Sunday in the US, however, titled Kill List, the series would seem to have become suddenly aware of the limits of the quiet luxury it has made famous by pitting it against an unsuspected rival: Swedish normcore. Arriving in the mountains and forests of Norway to negotiate with billionaire Lukas Mattson, played by Alexander Skarsgård and inspired by various real-life billionaires such as Elon Musk, Spotify's Daniel Ek, and PayPal's Peter Theil, the show's American protagonists find themselves completely out of place in the midst of nature and outdoor physical activities, on the backdrop of the real Juvet Landscape Hotel that was also the filming location of Ex Machina years ago. Here, not only two cultures and two types of understandings of capitalism clash, but also two different types of wardrobe and stylistic languages that deliberately fail to find common ground and are symbolically represented by a Makage jacket by Shiv Roy, which is half a classic coat and half an orange down jacket. This gap between «late imperial» American capitalism, as Tom Wambsgans puts it, and the new generation of European alternative tech bros is precisely exemplified by the difference between the characters' outfits: on the one hand a deluge of Ralph Lauren, Brunello Cucinelli, Tod's sneakers so white that looking at them is «like looking at the sun» as Shiv Roy says; on the other is Mattson in hoodies from Tiger of Sweden, sweaters and anoraks from Fjällräven, climbing pants, and sneakers from Haglöfs.

The selection of costumes and the timing with which the episode arrived is perfect: just as pieces for or against quiet luxury (which, let's remember, has only become a trend because for years everyone has been covering themselves in brightly colored logos and hoodies) are flowing all over trade publications, the creators of the series decided to show the ways in which this style can fail appearing inauthentic in contact with a real world where white sneakers get dirty, cashmere and suede get ruined in the rain, a hoodie is better than a vicuña crewneck sweater, and making it appear as unnaturally stiff and out of context outside of skyscrapers and boardrooms overlooking the New York skyline. Especially since, now that fast fashion has gotten wind of the trend and decided to reinterpret it, many Shein or Zara customers have started dressing like executives (or real estate agents, depending on the cut and color of their blazer) to go to clubs or events. But it is impossible to democratize something that is inherently elitist - the binomial of "quiet luxury" has its semantic pivot precisely in luxury that by its very nature is inaccessible to most. The result of popularizing what is not popular, and for this TikTok is primarily responsible, is that quiet luxury is rapidly screwing around every stylist's ultimate nightmare: business casual with its quilted vests, slim-fit jeans, wannabe-cool sneakers, navy blue pullovers, plaid shirts worn under jackets, and plain, fine-knit cardigans.

@littlelordpmd mr skarsgard has charmed me i will admit … #alexanderskarsgard #lukasmatsson #lukasmatssonedit #succession #successionhbo #successionedit original sound - h

We will suffice here to quote the always brilliant @dieworkwear who wrote last month that «given the confusing number of possibilities, a lot of guys try to modernize tailoring in bad ways or they wear business casual stuff that hints at notions of respectability but doesn't look particularly stylish» after defining business casual «menswear NPC» in an earlier tweet. Be that as it may, Succession's customers' response to quiet luxury is that of Swedish normcore, with a range of brands known for reasonable design, honest prices, and durability. The best part is that Mattson's outfits don't even belong to that Instagram-friendly gorpcore that has boomed so much in recent years - there's no Arc'Teryx and Salomon, no sign of thousand-euro parachute pants or jackets designed in Japan that cost the same as a small apartment downtown. Indeed, there is no trace of a desire to leave an impression on others. Balzac once wrote that «The brute covers himself, the rich and foolish adorn themselves, the elegant dress up»: Lukas Mattson represents a new generation of rich people who care little for silk ties and leather shoes, who really do cover up without dressing up, and who are basically not afraid to denounce themselves as metaphorical brutes - it is no accident that very often in the series we refer to the character as a "Viking." That is just another aspect of luxury masquerading as authenticity. Mattson's wardrobe is a rejection of luxury, a demonstration that if in the past noveau riches were covered in logos, gold details, animal prints, and vulgar details, the "new" noveau riches are simply scruffy.