From Keith Richards to Nick Cave, from modern dandies to violent rock'n'rollers, Ackermann's third menswear collection finds the Frenchman in a rebellious mood.
“How many roads must a man walk down,” a slowed-down Bob Dylan crooned from the sound system at Haider Ackermann, “before you can call him a man?” The designer was in a reflective mood on Wednesday evening as he hosted the most intimate of his menswear presentations to date, held in a courtyard on rue du Parc Royal with a seemingly bottomless champagne bar. “I might have been tremendously bored with myself,” Haider told i-D, launching into one his poetic accounts of why he had made the clothes he’d made. “The first one was very precious and the second one was very bourgeois, so I had to rebel,” he said of his three menswear collections, summing up not just the reason behind the 60s rock’n’roll air to his spring/summer 15 collection, but the reason behind the 60s and rock’n’roll altogether.
He called his new men “modern dandies” and used a Haider Ackermann trademark word about them: “violent”, not in the word’s literal sense but rather alluding to the determination of the rock’n’roll icons he’d been inspired by, from Keith Richards to Nick Cave. “They are who they are. They dare to take risks: with their lives, with their poetry, with their work. They will leave something behind while we are being so careful that we might not leave anything behind. We’re more restrained,” Haider mused. For a designer like Ackermann, who moves so slowly within his aesthetic from season to season, it wasn’t just a statement about devil-may-care individuality, but a manifestation of his right as a designer not to have to reinvent himself every season.
And so, Haider presented a collection that looked more Haider than anything else – and that was a good thing. With the modish but somewhat bohemian tailoring of folksy silk floral jackets and coats worn over waistcoats and Haider’s beloved scarves, it was clearly a departure from the more Victorian vibe of his autumn/winter 14 collection. It was harder, less romantic, and at times a little severe, like in a pair of skinny PVC trousers that begged to be worn on a rock’n’roll stage. The answer to Dylan’s opening question in Blowin’ in the Wind was evident: Haider and his trusty fan base have been walking the same road for a decade now, and with every step they take their identities are confirmed, establishing an entirely clear-cut legacy for themselves as men.
A lot of designers like to talk about their universes and all the things you’re supposed to do and say and be within their worlds, but few practise what they preach as effortlessly as Haider. “It’s easier to plan a fashion show than this,” a member of his team confessed, but everything seemed so casually lush you wouldn’t have guessed. For three seasons now, Haider – a self-proclaimed devotee to the fashion show – has been showing his menswear in intimate presentations, proving that fashion doesn’t necessarily need a runway to convey a story. “It gives me a sense of freedom,” he said, sipping his champagne with crushed ice. “Look, the guys are walking around having drinks with the guests. That feels wonderful.”