“Haider Ackermann Finds Redemption in 2023”

Haider Ackermann, Photo by Jerome Bonnet for Newsweek

Having fought to regain ownership of his name, Haider Ackermann is back, juggling couture and sportswear. The fashion world doesn’t always agree on everything (what an understatement, lol). Still, we were united in praising Haider Ackermann’s official return to fashion after being largely absent for three years. While the 52-year-old Bogota-born French designer kept somewhat busy (and kept his name in the limelight) designing red carpet looks for his dear friends and muses Tilda Swinton and Timothée Chalamet, Ackermann’s last show was for fall 2020.

“In a year when the wheel of fashion has been whirring ever more frenetically, watching Ackermann’s haute couture gave us a rare moment to exhilarate in the sensation that creative excellence matters. The gift of 10 ephemeral minutes that are etched on my memory forever.”

—Sarah Mower, Vogue Runway Chief Critic

Haider Ackermann putting the finishing touches on Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Couture, lamodenimages.com

Haider lost his job during the pandemic due to a falling out with his former business partner Ann Chapelle (he left after the company suffered a “mega loss”) and had to fight to reclaim his name. Not being one to air his dirty laundry in public, Haider handled the setback (like everything he does) with elegance, grace, dignity, and discretion.

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Couture, Photo by Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

The Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2023 couture show, held on January 25th in Paris, was a tour de force. A perfect blend of Ackermann’s refined approach to minimalism balanced by Gaultier’s provocative maximalism, it was controlled and restrained yet fantastical and impactful. For those who love fashion, it doesn’t get much better.

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Couture, Launchmetrics for The Impression

Gaultier can be eccentric and playful, while Ackermann is rigorous and austere. Ackermann’s task was to explore Gaultier’s quieter side, examine his archives, and find similarities to his own. Haider purposely steered clear of Gaultier’s funkiness and eccentricity. He highlighted the precision of Gaultier’s cut, mastery of line, and color sense, three elements that unite both designers and their adoration of haute couture.

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Couture, Photo by Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

There was no hint of camp or irony in the collection, but there was an element of surprise. Electric blue feathers billowed from a perfectly cut black jacket, and bronzed feathers topped off a pale blue bustier. There were unexpectedly clashing colors; sometimes, just a slice of color brightened up black. Ackermann is a master tailor and a wizard with a trouser. If you didn’t think a pair trousers could be dramatic, you would change your mind after looking at this collection, which represents modern glamour at its best!

“In visiting the extensive Fila archives, I was struck by how elegant sportsmen were on the playing field back in the day. I aim to elaborate on that, keeping the feeling of unexpectedness important to me.”

– Haider Ackermann

Haider + Fila, spacesstorie.com

Later in the year, Haider put his own inimitably chic spin on active sportswear. He partnered with Fila on a collection shown in Manchester, England, on November 18th. Haider + FILA was a co-branding rather than a quick capsule, meaning that Haider’s name was on every piece along with Fila. While Haider disdains logos, after having had his name taken away from him for so long, he relished seeing it plastered all over. Indeed, there were “Haider + Fila” logos galore!

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023, Launchmetrics for The Impression

Haider is best known for off-kilter elegance, asymmetrical draping, silk, and defined tailoring rather than neon colors and spandex. His complex and luxurious designs differ significantly from the accessible sportswear the international sportswear giant represents. But it was precisely this supposed incompatibility that attracted Ackermann to working with Fila.

Haider + Fila, Photo by Max Montingelli

Moreover, Fila represents Haider’s youth. “We all wore Fila,” admitted the designer, who acknowledged the strong connection between couture and sportswear. “The couture client in LA runs around in sneakers and jogging pants.” The bottom line is that everyone aspires to couture, but what sells is sportswear.

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Couture,, Photo by Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

As we head into 2024, the big question is, who will replace Matthew Williams as creative director of Givenchy, a label desperately searching for an identity? The names mentioned include Simon Porte (Jacquemus), Alessandro Michele, Sarah Burton, and Riccardo Tisci, who held the job from 2005 – 2017.

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Photo by Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

My vote is for Haider Ackermann. Honorable, gracious, and hugely talented, Haider would bring integrity and focus to the label. Ackermann would be brilliant to head up Chanel. Monsieur Givenchy is not the only designer rolling around in their graves!

Latest Comments:

  1. Great article! I enjoyed every sentence–so true, unfortunate as it may be. I even learned some new jargon. Hopefully, it…

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.