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4.27.2018

Haider Ackermann

This show began to a slow and steady thump from the PA that sounded like a livestream from a stethoscope on an elephant. As the models walked through twin lines of bulbs toward the photographers, then turned left or right around the grand ballroom of the InterContinental, the structure of this show seemed just as measured. The mostly black, mostly striped looks turned left. The mostly white, mostly dotted looks turned right. Within those stripes and dots -often slightly mismatched between Haider Ackermann's signature low-rise tapered pants and his raffishly loose smocks, vests, or sinuously cut jackets- were signs of stress head : panels of print that appeared to have been peeled off the garment, revealing different concentrations of dot or stripe below. As the thumps slowly sped up remorselessly, that initial semblance of a structure fell delicately apart. Sweaters were worn around the neck rather than on the body; a pair of rust-color jersey track pants tapered to gaiter tightness injected the first shiver of color; then a wide regatta stripe suit in mint linen pushed it further. A long loose silk trench billowed behind a nattily wide pair of pants in monochrome check. Around 15 looks in, a fabulous, revere-less single button lilac suit represented total defeat of the relative restraint that had preceded it. Still the thumps grew faster. We saw a few women's looks, notably a black and white shorts suit with short, turned-up arms revealing a polka-dot cuff : Haider Ackermann cuts so incredibly for women. The thumps merged and turned into a stressful dirge as the two opposing currents of men and women circled in an increasingly diverse and deconstructed representation of his cultured/nomad/pirate archetype, all shod in ribboned gladiator flip-flops. Afterward he said, "It was little bad boys in search of themselves. The bad boys are getting mature and they're trying to straighten up". This is a designer whose designs are a mirror of himself. Was he referring to his big boy gig at Berluti ? Maybe -but let's hope he stays twisted. It's why the audience roared over the wall of sound when he came out to take his bow. Well, Haider Ackermann actually exited Berluti at the end of last month. A short tenure even in the current cyclone of the fashion industry, where designer entrances and exits are common and many contracts are for three-year terms. His departure came at a moment of upheaval in the menswear industry and in particular at LVMH. Within the last three months, the company announced a new designer for its Dior Homme label (Kim Jones, formerly of Louis Vuitton, the LV in LVMH), a new designer for Vuitton (Virgil Abloh, the man behind Off-White) and a début men's collection for Céline (by its incoming designer, Hedi Slimane, previously at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent) and Kris Van Assche, who led Dior Homme for 11 years, now at Berluti... Musical chairs.

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