Was it an audition? If so, Haider Ackermann may or may not get the job,but he certainly aced the assignment. The job, of course is that ofChristian Dior creative director, for which Ackermann’s name has beenamong those bandied about.

If Ackermann’s sensibility is more inkeeping with the house codes of Yves Saint Laurent than Christian Dior(an ironic reality given all the succession/replacement/appointmentsupposition dominating the conversation this season), who knows whatcriteria Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano will take to theirdecision-making process? This is certain: Ackermann’s collection wasstellar. He opened with an exploration of the smoking, delivered in leanlayers and intricate cuts, and toughened up with demonstrative slashes,straps and belts; the precise vests, jackets and coats keeping companywith fluid silks, some extended into floating trains. The specificityand clarity of thought were all the more impressive given theconsiderable diversity of the lineup.

Ackermann moved from blackand white to color to breathtaking effect. He encrusted a black coat inpinkish-copper from the hips down, an alluring topper for slim pants.From there the hues became more mesmerizing, whether in deep, moodymixes of blues and greens, sometimes three tones in concert, or workedfor greater contrast as in a blue satin halter over high-shine maroonpants. Most significant, this is the kind of color to really get excitedabout, the kind that will look as rich and chic off the runway as on.

That’s true of virtually the entire collection, a few provocativecutouts low on the hips notwithstanding. Along the way Ackerman didsomething increasingly rare these days, delivering genuinesophistication with an overlay of edge.

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