Haider Ackermann is part of a mystery and even after this morning’s presentation I’m still not sure we have all the pieces for finding the solution. For that matter, I’m not sure Ackermann has all the pieces, either. Perhaps no one does.

To even begin getting a hold on this Ackermann spring/summer collection, however, we have to go back considerably earlier this year when the designer styled Tilda Swinton for a short film by the fashion-sponsoring car maker, Mercedes Benz. Set in the Highlands of Scotland, Ms. Swinton is seen driving the new car from place to place, burying something each time she stops. What is she burying? We don’t know. What is the meaning of the film? We don’t know that, either. In fact, neither do Ackermann or Swinton. What matters, at least for our purposes this morning, is the look of the film; Ms. Swinton’s iconic hair style, the long, sweeping jacket, the clean lines of the car. These are the pieces that bleed over into this morning’s runway presentation. So, before we go any further, please take three minutes to watch the film.

Now we’re ready to try and make something of the runway show where the first thing one notices is that the models are all wearing wigs that mimic Swinton’s look. The second thing one notices is that even though the atmosphere in the film is decidedly not spring/summer, Ackermann continues the basic silhouette of the long coat with streaming tales. Third, there is an intentional juxtaposition going back and forth through the entire collection between hard, clean lines and a soft, relaxed feel. Think of it, perhaps, as the difference between the inside and the outside of a luxury car.

You now know everything about Ackermann’s spring/summer collection. The routine is consistent and the looks are impressive. He presents a structured look first, then relaxes it, then relaxes it some more, but never to the point that one misses the underlying architecture of the design. There are no long, sweeping gowns or dresses with lots of frills. Anything soft comes at the top, either in a blouse or a jacket, the long tailed coat seeing the majority of the action. Skirts and pants and jumpers are all fitted, highly structured, and frequently very polished. One of Ackermann’s frequent tools is to put tight-fitting patent trousers under very relaxed mille feuille layers of silk.

Color palettes stay in the murky neutral range, almost as though there’s a fog lingering across the clothes. Ackermann’s take on the single bare shoulder is especially interesting and one likely to be quite popular. He also has a thing for bare backs with the more structured silhouettes. Belting is sometimes complicated and may need additional instruction if one wants to copy the runway look precisely.

Given the commercial popularity Haider Ackermann has received this year, I was all prepared for a collection that was shallow and void of any real substance. I am very happy to say I was wrong. Ackermann delivers strong, refined looks that are every bit as refined and luxurious as the car brand. Sharp, versatile and wearable, I hope they order  a large production run. These looks are going to be very popular come spring.

Photo credit: Marcus Tondo

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