“We are [in a] strange time, so I wanted to have this fragility, really, something very uplifting,” Haider Ackermann said backstage after his show on Saturday morning.
Like many states of being, happy is relative. Ackermann’s models entered out of a mist, coiffed as from Armageddon’s chicest salon, and walked trance-like to Lou Reed’s “Vanishing Act” on the soundtrack: “It must be nice to disappear /To have a vanishing act/To always be looking forward/And never looking back.” So happy — it depends upon your perspective. The collection did provide of the kind of moment rare this season, one of genuine fashion. It was beautiful and oddly serene.
To be fair, change the hair, lose the fog and give Lou a good cup of caffeine, and there was nothing dark about the clothes. To Ackermann’s point, they uplifted in the way that beauty uplifts. There’s a specific romance to his work, his women at once worldly and a touch otherworldly. Even when exposing their fragile side, they project an almost mythic power — a been-there/done-that knowing-ness from which they derive strength rather than cynicism.
Here, all of Ackermann’s highly developed signatures were on display and under control — the expert tailoring, the flou, the masculine-feminine discourse, the reed-thin silhouette and, especially, the color sense. His is among the best in fashion, and here he invoked it judiciously, often with bold hose and boots under neutral clothes — olive green under a khaki jacket; peacock blue under a black smoking jacket-dress. At other times, he went slightly more flamboyant, as with the same blue legs under a high-sheen copper coatdress.
Ackermann opened with that khaki-and-green look, the short jacket belted over shorts — or was it a tiny skirt? — that poufed slightly, creating a bit of a Renaissance courtier’s silhouette. But Ackermann didn’t stay there, losing the pouf for a dusty pick jacket over golden legs. He showed graceful dresses and skirts, some in single fabrics with feminine bodices, some in silk spliced with almost-matching velvet. He loves the power line of super-sleek pants, including the dramatic look of a high-shine, a barely pink pair under a billowing taffeta trench. Throughout, Ackermann contrasted matte and shine, most vividly in a pair of black vinyl pants worn with a delicate, light blue frilled blouse. Fragility revealed, but on a base of strength.