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“With the internet, everybody’s got an opinion and everybody’s free to say whatever they want. I’m sorry — no. Some people have knowledge of what they’re talking about, but when people just put their comments out there, I find it difficult. What do you hope to express by saying ‘I didn’t like this show’? It’s not that easy to judge things.” HAIDER ACKERMANN

PHOTOGRAPHY DAN MARTENSEN STYLING JACK BORKETT Hair Marki Shkreli at Artlist. Make-up Eny Whitehead at Calliste Paris. Photography assistance Henri de Carvalho. Styling assistance Kate Iorga. Production ARTISTRY Production Ltd. Model Katlin Aas at Tess Management. ALL CLOTHING HAIDER ACKERMANN.

72 i-D MAGAZINE

Haider Ackermann likes handsome women and elegant men, but

‘internet’ with the kind of unconvinced voice sceptics of the digital

don’t call his work androgynous. “It’s not in my dictionary,” he says.

age use when describing newfangled playthings – as if it doesn’t really

When he revived his menswear for spring/summer 14, the heavily

exist – and he’s got some pretty astute views on social media, too. “If

tattooed models, dressed up like dandyesque aristocrats, bore a

you communicate about your work it’s fine, but not when it’s personal.

certain resemblance to his own look: a kind of intellectual Latino rock

I find it very dangerous; very depressive. One day I was with Olivier

‘n’ roll nomad with a penchant for plush loungewear. (This evening he’s

Theyskens and he instagrammed a picture of us, and I could see how

casually chic in a luxe grey jumper.) Ackermann’s darkly sexy spring/

dangerous it would be for me, because after half an hour I was like,

summer 14 women’s collection didn’t just cement his status as fashion’s

‘Olivier, how many likes do we have now?’” Haider laughs. “I could

best colourist, but also celebrated his tenth year on the Paris show

easily feel very insecure about it, because what if you don’t have as

schedule, a decade that’s seen the French designer tipped for pretty

many likes as other people?”

much every creative director job worth taking, from Margiela to Chanel.

Recently at a dinner, he says, a young designer wanted to instagram

If you can tell a man by the hotels he frequents, this evening’s drinks

a picture of the two of them together. When Ackermann declined, his

at Claridge’s speak volumes of Ackermann’s character. He always stays

dinner partner argued that he had to do it for his fans. “I thought, ‘The

here when he’s in town, just like he rarely ventures off-piste when it

only obligation you have is trying to make beautiful clothes!’ It’s the

comes to his regular haunts in Paris and Antwerp where he divides

only thing you’ve got to say,” he insists. “So I said, ‘No, I don’t want to.

his time. “I’ve been travelling so much that I like to have an anchor

I’m sorry, we’re having a moment.’ I don’t like to share… I guess I’m a

somewhere. Here the people are nice and friendly and,“ he interrupts

very selfish person,” he smirks. If his disdain for this brave new world

himself. “It sounds very boring, no?” If you didn’t know better, perhaps,

of self-promotion sounds démodé for a relatively young designer,

but you couldn’t accuse Ackermann of living a humdrum life. Born in

Ackermann’s self-irony and cheeky self-awareness easily make up for it.

the ghetto of Bogotá, Columbia in 1971, he was adopted as an infant

For as he admits, “I love to read gossip magazines. I saw this picture of

by a French cartographer and his wife, who took him from Chad to

Justin Bieber where this prostitute had taken a picture of him and put

Ethiopia and Nigeria before finally settling in Holland when Ackermann

it online - how insane is that? You can’t even sleep without someone

was twelve.

taking a picture of you that goes worldwide.”

Nowadays he visits them at their home in the south of France along

Ackermann will happily admit to reading his reviews, but he struggles

with his siblings, a sister adopted from Vietnam and a brother adopted

with the unconstructive criticism generated by the show-goers of

from Korea – and for Christmas, too, which he admits isn’t the easiest

the digital age. “With the internet, everyone’s got an opinion about

holiday for the child of a peripatetic family. “Our Christmas was

everything and everybody’s free to say whatever they want. I’m sorry—

always surrounded by foreigners and strangers. Not just friends of my

no.” In the current climate of fashion where houses vie for the attention

parents, but homeless people as well. My father would let everyone

of the blogger set, flying them out for events and dressing them for

in, so I don’t have this cosy family idea of it. It was always a house full

shows, Ackermann’s words are as controversial as they are brave. And

of strangers speaking different languages.” A product of his unusual

while he acknowledges a certain fascination with the immediacy of the

childhood, Ackermann has an effortless bohemian calm about him,

blogosphere, “I just don’t go on the internet and read their things,” he

merged with something very gentlemanly and an admitted longing for

says. “Some people have studied and have knowledge of what they’re

the traditional. “I think I’m very bourgeois at the end of the day,” he

talking about, but when people just put their comments out there, I find

professes, and orders a glass of Chablis.

it difficult. What do you want to express if you just say, ‘I didn’t like this

In an ever-growing fashion industry obsessed with fast pace,

show’? It’s not that easy to judge things.”

Ackermann’s nature has made him a kind of old-world dreamer, who

As the industry gets more digitalised, Ackermann’s species of analogue

proudly hallows the virtues of the classic fashion era. He says the word

romantics is becoming increasingly endangered. His shows, which

i-D MAGAZINE 73


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