Haider Ackermann par Jean-Baptiste Mondino.
Like nobody else, Haider has the gift to combine rich, deep shades with bursts of shimmer. In his collections the light dances a pas de deux across his fabrics: velvet, silk and lurex are the loyal allies of the designer who wields his palette like a painter. This sense of colour is certainly one of the reasons that convinced the house of Berluti, known for their colourful shoes with a sophisticated shine, to employ the designer.
Inspired and luminescent, Haider Ackermann nourishes his intense and secretive imagination, marked by a fertile duality. Strength and fragility, the masculine and the feminine, shadows and light, the structured and the nebulous all come together to formulate his own very personal approach. Sensual and magnetic, the body of Haider Ackermann houses the soul of a poet with leanings to a darker romanticism. Like a geological or metaphysical experiment, his is a simultaneous vision of surface and depth inviting in his fashion and even his very person. His fashion: an orgy of clever draping enveloping and veiling the body to protect it, without contradicting it, suggesting its lines without showing it. His person: the archetypal inspired designer who pursues season after season, an endlessly renewed expression of his personal obsessions.
Born in Columbia, Haider grew up in Africa between Ethiopia and Chad, before his family (a French couple who adopted him) settled in Holland. The influence of travel and particularly African clothing is a vital element in his collections abounding with drapes and reams of sensual fabrics outlining the incredibly poetic silhouettes of his perpetually wandering nomads.
It was at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, just like Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, that Haider formed his notion of fashion. Two years after the launch of his eponymous label in 2003 he joined the BVBA 32 group led by the great Antwerpian figure Anne Chapelle who also produced and distributed the work of Ann Demeulemeester.
He recently told us: “Clothing is but an envelope of the soul and is just a part of the atmosphere that I want to translate through my runway shows. Every season, at the beginning of my work, there’s my choice of music, hair and make-up. A runway show can speak about how in love I am. Or of the solitude after a break-up. If I play Recitation W/N.L (A Thousand Kisses Deep) by Leonard Cohen, it’s because I’m addressing a message to someone in the room, who will know so. It’s also a way of escaping from myself. I reveal myself but from that vulnerability comes strength. I love this duality between force and fragility.”
Listen to Haider Ackermann’s playlist here.
By Delphine Roche