Haider Ackermann on working with Tilda Swinton
A SENSE OF WANDERLUST.
From behind a pair of delicate wire frame glasses, introspective eyes peer out of a strong face framed by a tangle of dishevelled hair. Meet Belgium-based fashion designer Haider Ackermann, one of the most celebrated designers of contemporary fashion – and a poetic dreamer at heart.
Born in Colombia’s capital Bogotá and adopted by French parents, Ackermann spent his childhood travelling Africa and Europe with a cartographer as a father. Ever on the move and thus exposed to a diversity of cultures, a sense of wanderlust is forever ingrained into his persona, fusing straight down into his design process. He philosophically admits to “searching for that beauty of one line. Whether it’s in clothes – a blazer, a long coat or a dress – or in the purity of a line of a car. It’s this road you take in search of beauty.”
Ackermann’s career started well over a decade ago, dating back to 2001 and his first eponymous collection of sensuous silhouettes in Paris. Since, he has gained the loving trust of those at the sartorial forefront. Not by adhering to fast fashion and trend regurgitation, but by an uncompromising dedication to intricate aesthetics, opulent fabrics and sublime proportions. His distinct creations, tethering between classic high fashion and contemporary street wear, seduce when worn, lending the wearer an otherworldly power.
Now, he brings this intuition for grace to the new production of the Mercedes-Benz “special sets the standard” Fashion Campaign Spring/Summer 2015. An artful blend of Scottish landscapes and the luminous S-Class Coupe, the couture masterpiece melds seamlessly into the seductive narrative. Worn to enigmatic perfection by the fashion film’s protagonist, long-time collaborator – or “playmate”, as Ackermann puts it – and friend Tilda Swinton, the tones of the clothes are purposefully understated. “Movement of fabric or hair or gestures makes everything alive,” the designer explains. “It gives mystery to have almost nothing.”
These days, Haider Ackermann works from his atelier in Antwerp – but having seen countless countries throughout his lifetime and career, you might chance across him night-wandering the grand boulevards of the world, savouring a nostalgic moment.
Stop to ask of his greatest achievements and Ackermann, a true gentleman, will acknowledge his friends found along the way: “They stay true to me,” he asserts with feeling. “The moment I don’t believe in myself, they will believe in me. So that’s my highlight.”