Sunday, 20 June 2010

Haider Ackermann's A Carte Blanche Called 'Opium'

Haider Ackermann's Carte Blanche event "Opium" was part of Pitti W last week but it has taken me a few days to recover myself. The presentation of his womenswear pre-collection and S/S 11 menswear debut was a visual feast packed full of surprises. Ackermann hosted a lavish evening of fashion, performance and celebration in the deserted Palazzo Corsini on the edge of the Arno river in Florence. The event could not have been further from anything else I had seen at Pitti Uomo that day. In a wonderfully unique combination of the baroque surroundings and the bohemian spirit of Haider, guests enjoyed a champagne reception and exotic fruits, followed by a piano concert and then fashion parade in a chandelier lit courtyard...

Entitled “A Carte Blanche named "Opium", the showcase was a romantic homage to a traveling woman and her man alone in the deserted Palazzo, channeling a gypsy spirit of North Africa. The menswear itself was a complete surprise. With a womenswear line known for sensual, attenuated androgyny we expected more of the same for his debut menswear offering. Instead we were treated to an array of embroidered textiles and textures reminiscent of a grungier Dries Van Noten.

Layered loose fabrics of alternating textures and shades held a masculine grace and a relaxed grunge, belted and folded to reveal a gradient of colour, and an imbalance of lengths and proportion. This was a modern eclectic traveling wardrobe. Ackermann's inspirations and muses were Jean Genet, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde and Emperor Hailie the ghosts of these characters gathered...

In addition to the opulent fruit fare available prior to the show, piles of silver lined books lay for our perusal. These were Haider’s limited edition inspiration books which were especially printed for the occasion. With a poetic preface written by Francesco Bonami, the tome is rich with content from many of Haider’s idols, friends and frequent collaborators including Paolo Roversi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Berlinde de Bruckyere, Antony & the Johnsons and Tilda Swinton. It includes an image from The Emperor, the mesmerizing book by Ryszard Kapuscinski on the last days of Ethiopia’s last Emperor Hailie Selassie, mirrors Ackermann’s universe perfectly:

“I see him now as he walks, stops, walks again, lifts his head upward as though absorbed in prayer. O God, save me from those who, crawling on their knees, hide a knife they would like to sink into my back. But how can God help? All the people surrounding the Emperor are just like that – on their knees, and with knives. It’s never comfortable on the summits. An icy wind always blows, and everyone crouches, watchful lest his neighbour hurl him down the precipice."

With so much of fashion shifting towards a form of minimalism, Haider Ackermann's embroidery-encrusted jackets and patched jacquards were a pleasant surprise. Ackermann used fabrics and textiles that I wanted to reach out, manhandle and steal. During the show, while I was in a state of sartorial shock and longing, Susie managed to snap a few close ups of the collection...

One of Ackermann's embroidery-encrusted jackets

Beautiful silks

I might have been seduced by the setting but I adore these embroidery heavy trousers.

I love this peacock effect print.

A closer look at the array of textiles on show...

Both the menswear and womenswear were teamed with slippers embellished with layers of peacock feathers, silver beading and leopard satin.

There were undoubtedly shades of early Dries Van Noten and whiffs of Dolce and Gabbana's 1990s shows. Showstudio's Alex Fury mentioned that it had been some time since we have been treated to loose silhouettes, exotic fabrics, ethnic embroidery and cultural mismatching such as this. I for one would like to join Ackermann's nomadic tribe.


KC said...

those slippers.. look at the craftsmanship devoted in them.

iliketweet said...

Wow... So much detail, just wow!

tweet tweet tweet


Style Salvage Steve said...

KC: Just imagine lounging around the house in those.
Clare: Wow just about sums it up!


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