Haider Ackermann is not exactly an unsung hero, but surely a very special and intelligent designer who's not gotten the attention he deserves. This collection like several of his previous ones is a mesmerizing story that takes you in from the very first moment. He is an alchemist, a sorcerer who makes clothes that feel new and unquestionably valid. I've rarely seen a man take such a masterful approach to materials, primarily leathers, suede and cloth, and mold them into brutally romantic pieces that have the attraction of the softest most desirable clothes around. There is a feeling of security, like your favorite blanket or sweater as a child, only they're thoroughly grown up, sophisticated, even aggressive.
I was taken with the organic vein that ran through this collection that brought to mind vegetation; leaves of fantastic texture and scale. The sculptural aspects of the jackets, coats and belts worked ceaselessly to embrace and celebrate a woman's body. It felt like a bit of Donna, and a more generous, humane Rick Owens, but strangely like Claude Montana for the new century. The mix of shine and matte, leathers and suede with and without top stitching details to add another layer of detail and texture, and all crowning some of the most evocative and provocative leather pants to come down a runway in a long time. The spiraling, zipped, waist cinching belts were multifunctional as they could be done up or left open at the top and bottom to create more shapes, more mysterious elements. Many elements of jackets and coats were multifunctional. Peplums could zip on or off or be left dangling. Shaped jackets reminded me of the jackets worn in 18th century France at the court of Louis IV. Layers of laser cut leather mimicked lace for collars and peplums, but never as dramatically when they were cut as long evening looks . They were simply beautiful. Leathers with leather lace. The architectural aspect of the shapes was achieved with a light, sure hand and played both sides of the coin from strict to soft, elliptically shaped coats as well as cinched, sharp, layered jackets.
One could call this aesthetic "Brutalist" but that would be too confining. Rick Owens works constantly in that manner, but Ackermann goes beyond that vocabulary to create a new result. His woman is essentially armed and protected in these clothes. She is also seductive and deceptively vulnerable in a way that draws you to her. The technical brilliance of his vision is unavoidably in your face. I wonder why this collection is such a well kept secret. This man has got it. If I were the buyer, the consumer or the editor, I would have to have it.
THE ACL GIFT GUIDE 2023
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