Challenging fashion — in the home stretch of fall 2014, it’s fair to say the season could use more of it.

Haider Ackermann challenges. He challenges himself, he challenges us,he challenges his customers. This time, he sought to “find a kind ofgracefulness in the masculinity,” he said after his show. “It’scomplicated, because masculine is about force and about strength, and Iwas trying to find this kind of delicateness and gracefulness. And acertain simplicity as well.”

On the last point, the change wasdramatic — and not without commercial significance. Over the pastcouple of seasons, Ackermann has decreased the signature complicationsof his clothes, tempering but not eliminating the wraps, drapes, pilingsand floating appendages. Here: Gone. Nary a chiffon floater in sight.In their place: tone-on-tone silhouettes flush with the power of plain.He opened with a gray flannel top and wide trousers under a matchingcoat, the look’s linear-but-loose, floor-sweeping proportionsestablishing the very specific template for what was to come:funnel-neck dresses, jumpsuits, coat-over-pants looks, all in mannish,winter-weight fabrics and completely unadorned by anything other thanthe occasional textural of a graphic houndstooth. Breaking up thisstark, tailored polish, sportier looks were anchored by hoodies andbombers that, under Ackermann’s care, took on newfound toniness. Onefeatured a sleeveless man-tailored vest over fur jacket over hoodie in amasterful take on layering that managed not to turn bulky. With theselooks, Ackermann varied his silhouette, at times cinching the waist witha wide belt and replacing the full-cut trousers with skinnyalternatives.

As for the challenging aspect, Ackermann achievedhis desired fusion of masculine gentleness within a men’s-inspiredframework while simplifying the clothes without losing himself in theprocess. Yet surface simplicity should not be confused with easy. Hisclothes radiated a grandeur — hauteur, even — antithetical to much ofcurrent fashion and lifestyle and intended for women unafraid of thesubversive side of timeless chic. Challenging indeed.

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