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 of Christian Dior creative director, for which Ackermann’s name has been among those bandied about.

If Ackermann’s sensibility is more in keeping with the house codes of Yves Saint Laurent than Christian Dior (an ironic reality given all the succession/replacement/appointment supposition dominating the conversation this season), who knows what criteria Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano will take to their decision-making process? This is certain: Ackermann’s collection was stellar. He opened with an exploration of the smoking, delivered in lean layers and intricate cuts, and toughened up with demonstrative slashes, straps and belts; the precise vests, jackets and coats keeping company with fluid silks, some extended into floating trains. The specificity and clarity of thought were all the more impressive given the considerable diversity of the lineup.

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

That’s true of virtually the entire collection, a few provocative cutouts low on the hips notwithstanding. Along the way Ackerman did something increasingly rare these days, delivering genuine sophistication with an overlay of edge.

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