Nearly ten years after the launch of his namesake line, Paris-based Colombian designer Haider Ackermann seems to have finally come out on top. His spring collection, which showed to great acclaim during Paris Fashion Week, took all the signature components on which he has built his brand—new takes on the leather jacket, expert draping and customizable layers—and brought it all to a higher level.
The momentum that’s been building over the past few seasons has manifested itself in a true watershed moment for the designer. Not only did he inspire audience members with the singular interpretations on the leather jacket that have made him the cult favorite he is, but he also explored challenging and sexy directions with deep-plunge tuxedo/kimono hybrids that bared unexpected flashes of flesh and marvelous uses of color.
A graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy, Ackermann has been creating his own brand of avant-edginess since he started out in 2001. Comparisons to Rick Owens have been abundant given the unexpected sex appeal and goth starkness of his designs, but he is quickly emerging from such easy comparisons. Citing everything from monasteries to pirates as his inspirations, his off-beat sense of style has made him a visionary, attracting clients in search of that “otherness” so valued in fashion today. Longtime client Tilda Swinton may have been the first to rock Ackermann’s wares on the red carpet, but she certainly won’t be the last. Other daring celebrities will no doubt take to his expertly tailored, though seemingly disheveled, accordion pleated floor-length skirt or his de-con black leather biker jacket-turned-evening dress in the near future.
Meanwhile, the designer debuted his flamboyant menswear collection during Pitti Uomo in Florence just months ago, where he took his complex layering and gypsy-like spirit to a new audience—not much of a stretch considering his typical unisex color palette and fondness for sturdy materials. Funnily enough, the menswear’s ornateness, what with its beading and sparkle, could be considered more femme than his womenswear, which he showed concurrently. But just as with his women’s collections, a big part of the beauty in Ackermann’s designs is the wearer’s flexibility and ability to self-style while keeping the designer’s unique vision indelibly intact. Basically, wherever Ackermann goes, there he is—and he happens to be in a very good place right now.