Haider Ackermann’s ascension to… Christian Dior?

Haider Ackermann for W Magazine © Inez van Lamsveerde & Vinoodh Matadin

I have been observing the evolution of Haider Ackermann for several seasons, as he is one of my favorite new designers when it comes to womens’ clothing. In my humble opinion, his last two seasons in Paris outclassed all of the other Designers’ Women Collections by a long shot.

Haider Ackermann’s Amazons

Haider Ackermann’s U-slit line SS 2010 © Marcio Madeira

Haider Ackermann reveals a contrasted silhouette, nomadic, romantic and yet is strong and assertive. His fashion does not scream out loud, it is strong and confident enough to drive all of the attention by it’s solemn and majestic design in to the new Amazon. He is a master of cut and volume. This is apparent when it comes to emphasizing long silhouettes and hemlines which gives an impression of an endless line with deconstructed layers as well as strong Japanese and Yves Saint Laurent influences. His U-Slit line for skirts and dresses has become one of his trademarks as well as his recurrent usage of silk and leather.

Haider Ackermann, Franco-Colombian, is a world citizen with a unique mix. Born in Sante Fe de Bogotta, Colombia, were he was adopted by French Parents (his father works for Amnesty International), he grew up living in various countries throughout Europe and Africa (Tchad, Ethiopia, Algeria, The Netherlands, Belgium where he studied at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and won the Swiss Textile Award in 2005). His background transpires in his fashion full of contrast. “I’m looking for a luxury that’s a bit négligé, that can be rich but doesn’t look rich” (From W Magazine’s Interview W Magazine).

Haider Ackermann FW 2010-2011 © Marcio Madeira

He started working for different designers the likes of Bernhard WillhelmPatrick Van Ommeslaeghe and in March 2001, he started to show his collections in Paris for the Autumn-Winter 2001-2002 season. In 2002, the Italian Luxury Leather House, Ruffo asked him to collaborate on the Ruffo Research Collection and in 2005, he signed with the Belgian Groupe 32 and moved to Paris.

Haider Ackermann’s ascension to… Christian Dior?

The recent rumors about him going to Christian Dior to replace John Galliano are persistent and I have noticed quite a few interesting signals over the last 6 months. Implying that Galliano’s departure was known within some circles for quite a while, I would rather not speculate.

Haider Ackermann SS 2011 © Simone Leonardi

Mr. Ackermann’s style would be a good fit for Christian Dior, injecting a romantic and flamboyant style for the assertive Dior woman. The Artistic Direction would change from that of the Galliano era, but perhaps the brand was in need of a more tempered and chic approach. For ten years, Galliano had a profound conspicuous effect on the brand. The younger generation may not remember that he was preceded by GianFranco Ferré, Marc Bohan (for almost 30 years) as well as Yves Saint Laurent prior to him creating his own brand, after Christian Dior passed away. Haider Ackermann has all of the creative assets to express himself in both areas i.e. Couture the “Tailleur ” (tailoring) and “Flou” (gowns) and Ready-To-Wear.

Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann - Cannes 2009
Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann at Cannes Film Festival 2009

Troubling synchronicity

The recent endorsement by Anna Wintour in American VOGUE’s March issue featuring Haider Ackermann’s fashion worn by Lady Gaga on the cover as well as the editorial within, is a rather troubling synchronicity.

Lady Gaga wearing H. Ackermann in US VOGUE COVER, March 2011 © Mario Testino

His recent refusal to Martin Margiela to replace him as the head of Maison Martin Margiela and  Karl Lagerfeld’s declaration in Numero, November 2010  “I have a contract for life so it all depends who I would like to hand it to. At the moment I’d say Haider Ackermann”. Lagerfeld had invited Ackermann to attend the last Chanel show and Ackermann responded, by stating, “What can one possibly say to such a phrase?! Such a compliment! How honored I feel, how can one not be?! In all honesty, tremendously, immensely touched especially coming from Monsieur Lagerfeld”. Then again, two days ago, he declared in L’Express Style“I would not mind confronting myself to codes from another Fashion House”.

Lady Gaga wearing H. Ackermann in US VOGUE, March 2011 © Mario Testino

Some recent celebrity endorsement’s from Actress and fashion muse Tilda Swinton on the red carpet of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and Janet Jackson attending his October 2010 show in Paris are just a small sample of some of the artists excited by his work.

One of the observations I have made is that his internet presence via advertising banners by one of his distributors has been very heavy since the beginning of 2011. These ad banners are being shown with a frequency that generally only occurs as a build up to a huge product launch.

Very troubling facts or positive synchronicity?

Janet Jackson at Haider Ackermann’s show in Paris and wearing Ackermann in NY – October 2010
The building up of his notoriety, a name that only a few months ago was quite obscure in the public eye, is also a good indicator. Articles and rumors abound in weeklies the likes of the Sunday Telegraphs where he was interviewed by Hilary Alexander after his recent show in Paris.

Will Haider Ackermann’s ascension lead him to… Christian Dior? Is that a guess? No, I would rather call it wishful thinking. I would not like to see Riccardo Tisci move from Givenchy where he does great work. It would become systematic that all of the designers going to Givenchy would end up at Christian Dior. Galliano, McQueen who left for PPR group and not for Dior and then Tisci? Givenchy is not a footstep for Dior, it is a brand with a great legacy that deserves more consideration.

The two questions are, is Haider Ackermann interested in the position left by John Galliano at Christian Dior? And is Haider Ackermann, LVMH and Bernard Arnault compatible?

We will know soon enough as the next Christian Dior Couture Collection in Paris will be unveiled on July 4th 2011, for the Fall-Winter 2011-2012 season.

About Frederique Renaut
Born in Paris, France, Fashion & Beauty Director for benjaminkanarekblog.com Frédérique Renaut wears 2 hats: 1/ Consultant in Communication for the Luxury Industry specialized in International Communication, Media & Advertising, 2/ Creative Direction, Video Direction for Fashion and Beauty shoots for publications like VOGUE & Harper's BAZAAR. She has also worked as an International Executive Manager for major cosmetics brands (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake and Narciso Rodriguez fragrances) and Couture Houses (Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Féraud & Givenchy by Alexander McQueen).