Couture Sensibilities at Haider Ackermann

Couture Sensibilities at Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann, SS11, Paris.

The majority of the time, the big fashion moments are about an image, or a colour or a silhouette that is powerful and striking, that captivates our attention and is eye catching and memorable. At other times we are drawn to the work of a designer by our subconscious and it is less easy to define exactly why we are drawn to their work, as they have created garments which aren’t about first impressions alone.

Haider Ackermann is one such designer whose work takes time to digest. These are collections which aren’t about novelty themes that will be easily recognisable in years to come. I doubt everyone will turn around in ten years time and be able to say for certain which exact season a Haider Ackermann garment belonged to, but that also isn’t really the point. The seasonal collections of Haider Ackermann appear more as a snapshot of where the process is up to so far, rather than as the final picture. In some ways it is almost hard to tell exactly where one collection ends and the next one begins, except for the fact that with each collection the garments seem to be always building in one direction.

When you actually breakdown the collections, the intrigue is so much about the drape of the fabric, and the fabric choices. These are clearly garments that are made with an eye for line and an incredible sense of flow, to the point where individual garments seem to blend into each other. Garment details seem to be continually floating above the twists and folds of complex rounded drapes of fabric and it becomes impossible to tell if a lapel belongs to an over layer, an underlayer… is it a part of the dress section or is it an add on over the top of the jacket? Is it actually a lapel at all or is it simply the reinforced corner of a luxurious silk scarf.

The layering of the garments is obviously nothing new, designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto etc have been doing it for years, and often with the similar mixture of cultural references that we see infused in Haider Ackermann’s work. There is something very realistic and street wise about layering clothing in this way. It takes the “branded” designer look out of the outfit, and makes sure the whole look isn’t too matching.

But Haider Ackermann is not a purely a streetwear designer and these clothes are not just for being realistic. In the elegant silhouettes, the curve of a low back, the twist of a cowl neck, we can see that Ackermann has the touch of a couturier. And perhaps this is what is actually causing all the hype surrounding him at the moment – he has a very contemporary ability to seamlessly blend his own unique mixture of haute couture and street cred to create the sort of clothes that will fit among the wardrobes of women whose loyalties normally lie at the feet of vastly different labels. You can easily picture an Ackermann cropped leather jacket over a Lanvin dress or with a YSL shirt. But the clans of Owens and Demeulemeester could just as easily layer up in tasteful monochrome and some slouchy Ackermann trousers.

The fact that his work lends itself to different contexts within the industry is surely also what has been driving the fashion rumour mills, with Ackermann’s name coming up as a potential successor at the houses of Chanel, Margiela and Givenchy. If a new appointment does come true for Ackermann it will of course prove for interesting viewing, especially from the point of view of being a voyeur of fashion process. It would be interesting to see how Ackermann would absorb and process the archives or ideas of houses such as these, and to see if this osmosis would force each collection to become more defined from the one before, or if they would continue to be beautifully blended.

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