Haider Ackermann titled his show A Carte Blanche Named Opium, and the elegantly spare book (he called it a carnet de voyage) that was distributed before his Spring presentation in Florence promised an appropriately dark, sensual head trip. That was a lot for the clothes to live up to. They were beautiful, yes, but so exquisitely studied that the carte blanche, the drama, went missing. Still, the scenario was seductive—the women in their languidly draped palazzo pants and layered silk tanks, the men like exotic brigands in rig that was part samurai, part corsair. It was easy to imagine the latter sweeping the former onto an Arab stallion and riding away into the desert, civilization surrendering to barbarism, even if what actually happened was more measured and polite.
Ackermann was Pitti's special womenswear guest (Raf Simons shows for Jil Sander tonight as the menswear invitee), and a surprise was promised. You could take your pick: the stunning Renaissance venue (the Palazzo Corsini) whose shadowy salons opened onto a chandelier-lit central courtyard, where a single bat circled while the audience took their seats; the table laid for a Caravaggio bacchanal; the atmospheric musical accompaniment from model Jamie Bochert. Or perhaps the surprise was that Ackermann was offering menswear for the first time. It was costume-y with its mirrored patchworks and brocades, but its boho nomad spirit felt like an authentic expression of the outré world defined in Haider's book. As for his womenswear, the main issue was that there was scarcely enough of it to get a true sense of the collection. One outfit of a leopard-spot camisole and pajama-striped pants ended in a long, animal-printed train that had a gala glamour. Still, it may be more sensible to lift a phrase from the Pitti press release and label the night "a site-specific performance," in which case the clothes should be regarded as merely one facet of an evening's elaborate entertainment.