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A Liberated Haider Ackermann

Ackermann wanted to be graceful, and on the whole he succeeded with a collection that had a sense of something simmering under the surface.
Haider Ackermann Autumn/Winter 2017 | Source: InDigital.tv
By
  • Tim Blanks

PARIS, France — Haider Ackermann insisted it wasn't politics that motivated him. No, he claimed it was an appreciation of the serenity and dignity of women that inspired him to open his latest show with three black models: Alek Wek in a simple, tailored black coat, Nykhor Paul in satyr leggings of black Mongolian lamb, Grace Bol in a sinuous black tank dress with a fissure of gold running down one side.  Ackermann, ever the dramatist, made his point so powerfully, so starkly, that it seemed like bad manners to challenge him on that statement about politics.

After Nina Simone sang Wild is the Wind on the soundtrack, she spoke. "Freedom is no fear."  The sentiment applied to him, Ackermann said, with his professional responsibilities: his own label as well as his new job designing menswear for Berluti.

That may sound like a lot more to do, but any initial reservations — or fear — he had have evaporated. He sounded liberated to explore previously fallow aspects of his creativity. And this collection was certainly a shift, away from the indolent jewel-toned decadence and girl-gang vibe of earlier shows.

It was Mrs Danvers-strict with the monochrome palette and the models homogenized under cropped black wigs. The line was long, lean as Ackermann’s always is. When you reduce your colour scheme to the essential restraint of black and white, cut becomes so much more critical. (The designer put Alek Wek in an electric blue pantsuit to test that theory.) “I wanted to concentrate on surprising myself,” Ackermann said. “I was trying to be graceful."

On the whole, he succeeded. But the most intriguing thing about the collection was the sense of something simmering below the surface: the way the fuzz of lamb burst out from underneath a coat, the fissures of gold that trailed up sleeves and down torsos. They made you think about the real world issues that  shadowed Ackermann’s show: cultural diversity, racism, misogyny.  In the current climate, it’s impossible for designers not to acknowledge such things, however subliminally.

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