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Haider Ackermann’s Japanese Pirate Couture
June 17th, 2010 @ 11:07 AM - Florence
Florence was the site of a rare fashion moment in a storied Renaissance palazzo Wednesday night, June 16, when Haider Ackermann presented a rare men’s couture collection, all highly unique, customized clothes.
And, the Japanese pirate meets rocker combination, the first ever menswear collection presented by Ackermann, looks like it will be highly influential. That’s not to say that millions of men are going to start dressing like a cross between Johnny Depp and Keith Richards. But one suspects this designer’s choice of patchwork fabrics from India, pajama pants, silky shirts and bizarre seat belts, that looked pinched from a business class flight, will filter into many guy’s wardrobes.
Entitled “Opium, Wardrobe for Men…. & Women,” the show – a gala event in Pitti, the giant menswear trade show that is widely regarded as the preeminent fashion salon on the planet – contained clothes for both men and women for the spring 2011 season.
Ackermann, a Colombian-born designer whose women’s runway show have in the past few seasons come to be regarded as a top ten must-see in the Paris season, where he usually shows, employed his signature sculptural look for both men and women.
“It’s the same aesthetic," the designer said backstage after the show. "Though maybe the woman is more poetic and the man more of an adventurer. After all, he is pursuing the lady.”
In a brilliant piece of staging, the production hung a series of huge chandeliers in the night sky above the courtyard of Palazzo Corsini, a magnificent baroque palace on the banks of the Arno. Pre-show, the designer laid out a huge feast, just as a spectacle, inside the palazzo, whose amazing ground floor frescoes have a ghostly damaged appeal, the result of the waters that flowed through the building back in November 1966 when the Arno overflowed its banks.
Ackermann had clearly tailored his look for the setting, sending out glitzy scarves and babouches, i.e. Moroccan style slippers, in feathered finishes that recalled the colors of the opulent frescoes. And, getting ex-model and torch singer Jamie Bochert to accompany the show on the grand piano with a cellist and violinist playing Bob Dylan’s “Knockin' on Heaven’s Door” was an inspired idea.
Jackets cut like Asian wrestler outfits, double lapel coats in Goa-style patchworks, Scarlet Pimpernel striped tops or dhoti cut trousers that finished three inches above the ankle all made for an exotic mood. Worn on a great casting of unshaven models, starring Scott Barnhill, lead singer of cult band Alvin and the 1015, this was an audacious take on men’s fashion. And it was proper couture, rather than just luxury ready-to-wear.
“I want to be clear that I am not launching a mens wear division," added Ackermann. "We’ll make these clothes for special order and maybe a few boutiques that have always stocked our womenswear. It was more an interesting challenge than anything else.”
Underlining his arty approach, he left copies of an intriguing carnet de voyage out for the 400 odd guests to take home. A quirky mélange of tribal photography, poetry and musings on aesthetics by the likes of hipster actress Tilda Swinton, style guru Serge Lutens and indie writer Jerry Stafford, the book was just like the show, wantonly eclectic and all the better for it.
Only at Pitti in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, does one find fashion administrators with the savvy and guts to stage a truly avant-garde event like this show by Ackermann, an off kilter fashion moment that was genuinely new.