comme des garcons' club kids take paris
"What's on the inside matters," Rei Kawakubo's club kids at Comme des Garçons reminded us on Friday in Paris, and the same could be said at Berluti where new house resident Haider Ackermann came out in full force.
As the red carpet pictures started rolling in from the Met Ball on the first Monday of May, the star of the show was nowhere to be seen. When Rei Kawakubo finally appeared on social media, courtesy of Phil Oh, the snapshot said a thousand words: clad in dark shades, a black skirt and a white leather jacket, the Comme des Garçons creator rushed past the lenses through an alternative entrance, her signature black bob blowing in the wind as she escaped the flashing lights of the celebrity circus unfolding outside. The ultimate designers' designer, it was hard to picture Kawakubo ever walking the red carpet leading into Art of the In-Between, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition honouring her Comme des Garçons legacy -- this being a person, who doesn't even feel a need to take a bow after her shows and bathe in the applause and recognition.
For a reserved designer, who imbues her work with such meaning and emotion, you can only imagine what went through her head observing from afar the celebrities posing and preening in their ball gowns on that grand staircase in New York, their faces contoured and hair done up to towering heights. If any of those impressions fed into her spring/summer 18 Comme des Garçons Homme Plus collection on Friday evening in Paris, Kawakubo's message was clear: What's On the Inside Matters, she called it, using that most elementary of sayings. She put her diverse cast of teenage boys in inverted tailoring, its flamboyant linings fit for Studio 54, turned her runway into a dance floor, and set the whole scenario to a clubby dance track.
This was the Homme Plus boy putting his heart on his sleeve, effectively exposing the fantastical insides of jackets--the soul of the garment, if you will. And lo what hid behind these jackets' formal exteriors: glitter, sequins, fur, animal prints, stripes, and florals! Some jackets had doll parts poking out from within, a collaboration with artist Mona Luison.
This was the red carpet's sea of colour turned inside out--all that glitters, but far beyond the perfect appearances of the red carpet culture that's become such a loud part of fashion. And as those slightly awkward boy models danced the night away in their Air Max 180s, Tyga waving the showbiz flag from the front row, there was something so pure and innocent about the statement Kawakubo conveyed to the new, young audience she no doubt gained on that first Monday in May. At the Met Ball, as in life itself, it's what inside that matters.
You could say the same about the house of Berluti, which has now been inhabited by Haider Ackermann for two seasons. And boy did it show. After the designer's debut at the fine tailoring brand last season, where his trademarks were subtly suggested within Berluti's stringent sartorial frame in hints of opulent colouration and a slightly more bohemian cut, Ackermann's sophomore collection was Haider all the way.
"There's something optimistic happening now in this world, so I wanted it to be smooth and very gentle, but very effortless -- not precious," he said backstage, in typical Ackermann-esque post-show phrasing. Being a classic tailoring brand, Berluti doesn't require the same acclimatisation from its designer as a fashion house with very defined codes would, and it leaves Ackermann with something of a blank canvas. He painted it with the romantic rock 'n' roll brush he handles so well, adding regal colours to slender tailoring he cross-dressed on a terrific cast of character models: boyfriend/girlfriend Jonas Glöer and Kiki Wilhelms were there, Henry Kitcher had a new platinum 'do a la Ackermann's BFF Tilda Swinton, elfin Willow Barrett sulked like a little prince, and lookalikes Stella Tennant and Finnlay Davis strode the courtyard of the Monnaie de Paris together in identical black leather coats and white satin trousers. "I like the intimacy of it," Ackermann noted.
His unmistakable aesthetic was all over the collection - not to mention one of his favourite emotive gong soundtracks - and it'll mean a spring/summer 18 season of enlightenment for the wealthy Berluti man. "I feel more free. The house has been supporting me so much. It's my story now, Berluti and I together," Ackerman reflected. "I'm at the service of the house." Indeed, what's on the inside matters.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams