If you weren’t already convinced Haider Ackermann is one of the sexiest designers in Paris, you would be after hearing his NSFW heart-thumping, rapturous-moaning show soundtrack. Wowza.
It set the tone for the designer’s latest exploration of gender and sexuality. Nothing unisex here (that’s still somewhat of a dirty word in fashion), “it was all about borrowing clothes from your loved one,” he said backstage. The morning after, perhaps? And indeed, you couldn’t tell what was for women and what was for men, or even who was whom model-wise underneath the androgynous slicked back hair that created its own kind of new, nonbinary normal on the runway.
As usual, the focus was sculptural tailoring, but not in the long liquid style or moody color palette laced with exoticism of seasons past. Instead, Ackermann wanted to “restrict it to something graphic to really challenge myself,” he said by way of explaining the black, white and red of the collection, including a long, duster coat reminiscent of a color field painting.
Throughout, there was a dialogue between structure and ease; a fitted jacket with concealed buttons, fabric twisted into something reminiscent of a shoulder embrace, for example. The style came in a variety of fabrications, from an abstract butterfly print, to stark white. Cigarette pants in mixed herringbone, check and diamond patterns were worn with a matinee idol’s white muscle tee; and a relaxed black shirt jacket with concealed buttons over trousers with a curving gold side stripe, like on a military uniform, but tracing a woman’s curves. The softening of military touches was a clever way for the designer to telegraph the power of sensuality.
Also inventive was the way he fused knits into tailoring (a big trend this season), including on the first exit, a black Mao coat with structured shoulders dissolving into soft red knit sleeves, and later, on a black Mao jacket with jacquard and gold herringbone bands dissolving into a white knit cardigan at the hem.
It all added up to something that not only was visually striking, but also seemed to have more commercial potential than some Ackermann’s efforts, by emphasizing more freedom to mix and match separates, and less of a total look.