The version of "Blowin' in the Wind" that tracked Haider Ackermann's show was by Bob Dylan himself, sounding unrecognizably deeper, calmer, and so much more tuneful than usual. If that was the voice of experience, it didn't exactly chime with the evolution of Ackermann's collection for men. Three shows in, he's gone from bohemia to bourgeois to ? Well, decadent edginess was on today's agenda. "The feeling we're missing," he called it. The man who had inspired him was none other than rock's erstwhile prince of darkness, Keith Richards. A few weeks back, the designer went to his first Stones concert. "They're not my generation, but their energy was beyond fantastic," he said. "Keith took my scarf and wrapped it around his waist. There was just a natural decadence."
Some would say an equally natural appetite for the outré informs Ackermann's own work. His brocades; velvets; long, flowing layers; and exaggerated proportions speak of dandified languor. The silky embroidered robe over striped pants sported by model Scott Barnhill in this latest presentation summed up the look perfectly. But the new edge sharpened the silhouette a little.
Op art checks, black vinyl pants, and a gold velvet baseball jacket were, if not exactly rock 'n' roll, at least a little more kick-ass than usual. "The freedom that people like Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, and Robert Mapplethorpe had gave me energy," Ackermann explained. "They took risks we're not capable of taking." He's clearly fascinated by such a thought. His models were posed like exotic specimens in a zoo, shuffling a little awkwardly under the gaze of the invited audience. But even if Ackermann's inspirations represent a kind of wish fulfillment for him, they don't infuse his work with enough passion to be truly persuasive. The wind that was blowin' today was not the wind of vital change.