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 of gracefulness in the masculinity,” he said after his show. “It’s complicated, because masculine is about force and about strength, and I was trying to find this kind of delicateness and gracefulness. And a certain simplicity as well.”

On the last point, the change was dramatic — and not without commercial significance. Over the past couple of seasons, Ackermann has decreased the signature complications of his clothes, tempering but not eliminating the wraps, drapes, pilings and 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 matching coat, the look’s linear-but-loose, floor-sweeping proportions establishing 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 than the occasional textural of a graphic houndstooth. Breaking up this stark, tailored polish, sportier looks were anchored by hoodies and bombers that, under Ackermann’s care, took on newfound toniness. One featured a sleeveless man-tailored vest over fur jacket over hoodie in a masterful take on layering that managed not to turn bulky. With these looks, Ackermann varied his silhouette, at times cinching the waist with a wide belt and replacing the full-cut trousers with skinny alternatives.

As for the challenging aspect, Ackermann achieved his desired fusion of masculine gentleness within a men’s-inspired framework while simplifying the clothes without losing himself in the process. Yet surface simplicity should not be confused with easy. His clothes radiated a grandeur — hauteur, even — antithetical to much of current fashion and lifestyle and intended for women unafraid of the subversive side of timeless chic. Challenging indeed.

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