When the magazines started to talk about Haider Ackermann, I was quite divided. At the same time, I was touched by his Arthur Rimbaud's attitude, the traveller who collected silhouettes and who refused to be captured in a box, but as I am perfectly stubborn, I refused to be mainstream and like what I was told to. So, I carried on observing Haider's work without making up my mind. One day, while I was leafing through an issue of magazine Numero, I saw a picture with various objects put on a box. Among them were small reproductions of one of my favourite painting, Noblemen with his Hand on his Chest, by painter El Greco. The box was Haider's. And there, the penny dropped.
All those fluid drapes, those vivid colours, all the soft clothes with their exquisite motion on the catwalk, during his Spring Summer 2011 collection ... I saw the likeness with the long white silhouettes of El Greco, dressed with free tunics of colours. It touches me more than the notes of the magazines, talking of women witnessed during his childhood in Africa. I mean, every designer can tell a story to the Press. Now, I was really appreciating Haider Ackermann as the poet he really was. Yes, he was one of the first to jump on the wagon of bright colours, I even quoted him in my article "Vitamin Your Style". But there is something more delicate in the way he treated it : his blue, for example, used with black, is shrewd. He is the only one, with Gareth Pugh ( in his Fall collection ), to have celebrate my favourite colour that well.
Now, I understand perfectly the fusional relationship, even couple relationship, he keeps going with the Queen of Elves, the Sorceress of Fashion, Tilda Swinton. She perfectly embodies his style, much more than Janet Jackson who is clearly only swearing by his designs because he is now trendy. I am not saying that you need to be thin and androgynous to wear his clothes, but I feel they are more spiritual than most of the clothes selling nowadays. Perhaps because Ackermann's collections remind us of Asia, this mysterious ancient Japan with samurais and geishas and this magic India with old gurus.
The Industry and Press also seem to be careful with this rising star, but not for the same reason as I was. They acclaim him; Karl Lagerfeld for example give him his special blessing and you know how the German designer is calling the shots. But when Haider's name is murmured for covering John Galliano at Dior, they say that he is too "young", too "inexperienced". Really ? Did they see his Fall 2011 collection ? If it's not mastering, I don't know what it is. It is even too "Diorian" for a Ackermann's show, as if he was sending the French House of Couture a visual résumé ... The silhouettes of the Ackermann's woman, indeed, assert themselves, perhaps gentrified a little too much. But just a little. There is still wildness here.
Only time will allow us to appreciate the numerous facets of this intriguing designer, but what is certain is that he is in control. No faux-pas until now, but a solid personality. Could he take on the responsability of Dior or any other famous line, besides his ? Is he too independant, or able to play with the messages ? These are now the questions concerning Haider Ackermann. The question of his legitimacy is already forgotten : it is now obvious that the Colombian designer, based in Belgium, is part of the Grands, and a name which is intimately bind with the future.