Haider Ackermann has been nurturing a growing fan base for several years now, but a little comment from Karl Lagerfeld that the Belgian-trained designer should be the man to replace him at Chanel one day, not to mention the fact that Ackermann has been named a potential Galliano replacement at Dior, means that positively everybody is paying attention now. He rewarded true believers and first-timers alike this morning with what might be the show of the season: beautiful, evocative, and transporting.
Leonard Cohen deserves part of the credit for the transporting element. A recording of his love song "A Thousand Kisses Deep" played on the sound system as the models glided slowly down the runway. Hard to resist a line like "I loved you when you opened like a lily to the heat." But to be sure, there was a lot of romance in these clothes.
After last season's foray into bold color and louche eveningwear, at first it seemed as if Ackermann was opting for restraint, opening with a pair of black coats with satin revers and loose, trailing backs. But then ivory, a hue we can't recall ever seeing at an Ackermann show, entered the picture, followed by rose-tinted sequins, and after that, brilliant combinations of jewel colors. "Exuberant" is the word for the way he wrapped, twisted, draped, and tucked tailored coats and jackets made from leathers, suedes, and silks. All the hallmarks of the Ackermann look were here: the action at the neckline; the small, belted waist; the sleeves rolled and pushed up past the elbows; the long, lean leg. This time, though, "it's a more masculine attitude," the designer said backstage. "Last season, she was letting herself go. Now she wants to be more reserved."
Maybe so, but a teal cutaway tuxedo jacket worn with a forest green silk top and full sapphire trousers that tapered to the ankle isn't the kind of look for going unnoticed in. And neither was the second-skin knit belted above an asymmetrical skirt—especially given that the latter revealed the better part of one leg, above which stirred a flounced leather peplum. This was a bravura performance from a singular designer.