"It's always the same story," said Haider Ackermann at his menswear presentation today. If, by that, he meant sumptuous duchesse satins tailored into jackets, shiny renaissance jacquards cut into trousers, and generous swathes of fringed silk slung around the whole masculine package, then he hit the nail on the head. If, on the other hand, he was talking about the psychological underpinnings of the collection, that was a whole other, ultimately more tantalizing story. So let's take Door Number Two.
Ackermann has always claimed that the women's collections that have captured the imagination of the fashion world are like a grail quest for him. At the end of it all, he'll connect with an elusive muse who has always been just out of reach. With this collection for men—essentially his first, barring the one-off he showed at Pitti in Florence a few years ago—his goal is much closer to home. "I'm searching for myself," Ackermann admitted, "someone I'd like to be." Meanwhile, a dozen or so models indolently circled around, carefully chosen simulacra of the image the designer had conjured for himself. Most of them were significantly inked. "They catch a moment with their tattoos," said Ackermann. "I'd like to have been one of them." But he's never plucked up the nerve to do it. "Hiding behind something," he muttered.
It was a curious admission, given that his clothes were so out in the open with their signature combination of extreme luxury and über slouch. Like the baggy trousers with gathered cuffs—tracksuit-easy but embroidered with green silk dragons—paired with a blazer piped pajama-like in ice blue. The ultimate gift with purchase for that outfit would be an opium pipe. Same with the kimono-detailed dinner jacket in lilac duchesse satin, its accompanying trousers sporting the crotch drop that is Ackermann's own sartorial signature. Which is, of course, the point. His collections—for women and, now, men—are splinters of himself. Although he insisted that working on men's clothing ended up being more concentrated than womenswear, more about detail, more about the garment itself ("You can't drape a man," he observed sagely), the fact remains that the poetry of his clothes is the poetry of the man himself.