MANCHESTER, England — Where Haider Ackermann goes, his friends will follow.
The Colombian French designer hosted a one-off runway show with Italian sportswear brand Fila in Manchester, England.
The unexpected collection that was announced in September featured womenswear, menswear and accessories, and is part of Fila’s mission to pivot its image by aligning with high fashion brands. In February, Fila partnered with Roksanda Ilinčić for her fall 2022 London Fashion Week show.
For Ackermann, who presents his own collections from his eponymous label at Paris Fashion Week and regularly mingles with stars like Timothée Chalamet and Tilda Swinton, said yes to working with Fila due to his urge for “electricity,” he explained backstage at The Warehouse Project, a venue synonymous with the city’s rave scene.
Behind the scenes, it was the calm before the rainbow. There wasn’t the hustle and bustle of a normal fashion show, this was on Ackermann’s time — and backstage he was strolling around greeting the models in his white jumper and jeans and gazing at the concrete surroundings.
“I needed some energy and speed after a little bit of silence. So, I was happy to be back on track and to stand straight and to go for it,” Ackermann said.
He turned the industrial warehouse into a fish tank — his models streamed onto the long, wide and white runway, with some in pairs and groups.
For the finale, the models came out in an unsynchronized, colorful shoal, with monochrome hoodies alongside candy-store pastel tailoring and in-your-face neon performancewear windbreakers and bodysuits.
It was a sporty, aquatic world, and one that underscored the current zeitgeist.
“We look at the streets, it’s all about sportswear, it’s not something unknown for us, we all do it,” said Ackermann, in his soft yet confident voice.
“I wanted to embrace youth and I wanted to embrace the energy. We went through some dark times recently so it’s nice to bring all this happiness, joy and an embracing life and that’s what I wanted to do. And this [is] what the kids are doing, they are stepping on the barricade,” he added.
Ackermann’s star shoal, all dressed in his designs sat on the right side of the runway, and included Emma D’Arcy, Andrew Garfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Manu Rios, Krystal Jung, Mahmood and Byeon Woo-seok.
“I’m lying low. I’m in my living room and things are producing, trying to get some short films ahead of going back into Westeros in the New Year,” said D’Arcy, star of HBO’s “House of the Dragon, dressed in a similar ensemble to Ackermann.
“You are slowly preparing your body for another transition. I find the transition hard but I don’t mind arriving at either destination,” D’Arcy added.
South Korean actor and model Woo-seok had fans arriving from around the country to get a glimpse of him, and showed up to cheering fans.
“I really loved the show, especially the use of the color green,” said Woo-seok, who was the most photographed man inside the venue.
He revealed he’s in the process of wrapping up a Netflix drama that’s not yet been titled. “He’s a very nice character,” Woo-seok hinted.
Another Netflix star at the show was Spanish actor Rios, of “Elite” fame. “Tomorrow there’s a new season of ‘Elite,’ it’s the sixth one,” he said.
Rios has become a Netflix golden boy as he prepares to star in another series opposite his “Elite” castmate Aron Piper in “El Silencio.”
His most anticipated project is his short film debut with critically acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar in “Strange Way of Life,” starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello serves as associate producer and costume designer on the short film.
“It’s like my dream coming true and I don’t know when it’s coming out, but hopefully soon,” Rios said.
After the show, Ackermann sat in the center of 150 friends for a candlelit dinner. Then, he took guests out to G-A-Y Manchester, a nightclub that started out of London in 1976. He danced with peers and lip synched Whitney Houston with Moretz and Rios.
“The person I love, that’s my happiness,” Ackerman said.