Haider Ackermann’s fashions evoke wind and water—and he may just ride the wave all the way to Dior or Chanel
by BOOTH MOORE
It was one of those runway shows that makes the world fade away. Models walked to the spoken-word beat of Leonard Cohen’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” draped in inky silks so fluid the clothes could have been dripping off of their bodies. The silhouettes were long and languid—a silk halter blouse wound around the neck and trailing a scarf-like end, a sweater slipping seductively off a shoulder, a burnished-sequin skirt cut out to bare a flash of hip.
It’s no wonder Paris-based designer Haider Ackermann is fashion’s new romantic, the toast of every town since haider ackermann fall 2011 collection presenting that blockbuster fall-winter 2011 collection in the City of Light. (The collection is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills.)
Editors, stylists and at least one other designer cooed over his exotic brand of cool when Saks hosted a cocktail party last month to welcome him to L.A. Janet Jackson even stopped by to show her affection for Ackermann, who also has a celebrity champion in Tilda Swinton.
A self-confessed dreamer, Ackermann dresses with the sensibility of a global nomad. To meet for coffee at the Chateau Marmont, he wears a red-plaid flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped up the sides, layered over a Henley top and dhoti pants. Accessories include string bracelets, an Ann Demeulemeester glass pendant filled with loose diamonds and bookish wire-rim glasses.
Last November, he got the ultimate stamp of approval—from Karl Lagerfeld, who said Ackermann was the only designer he could imagine succeeding him at Chanel. He’s still considered to be one of the top contenders for the Dior job, post-Galliano. “It would excite me,” he says of taking on a new challenge. “Sometimes, you’re drawing a collection, and something doesn’t fit. I have more things to say, and another house might help me with this...I might dream of a woman more elegant and pure.”
Born in Colombia, Ackermann grew up living in various cities in Europe and Africa, as his father was a cartographer. “I was intrigued to see all those chadors in Africa, the fabrics blowing in the wind. I had this romantic idea of trying to understand the mystery of a woman.” That led him to the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts and eventually to Paris, where he started showing in 2002.
“The show is the best part of what I do,” says Ackermann. “When I was young, I went to the shows of Mr. Galliano and Mr. Yamamoto. To be on the other side of the curtain trying to make other people dream is a challenge. I try to make clothes that don’t stay still, so when you sit in the crowd, you feel the breeze and the energy. People can absorb the moment of a beautiful woman walking slowly. Because time is luxury...the only luxury we have left.”