Haider Ackermann creates clothes that make women dream. That's all very well and good - it's what Christian Dior stated as his aim in life. And you could do much less than emulate Monsieur Dior. However, the dream element of Ackermann's aesthetic can be something of a sticking-point - as in, how can this airy-fairy dream of sinuous loveliness ever translate to modern life?
Ackermann's Autumn/Winter 2012 collection addressed that immediately: he opened with a jacket, over a blouse, cinched with a sharp leather wasp atop a long skirt. Long meaning mid-calf, rather than a mermaid-line Edwardian beaut with a train and wafting layer of gossamer, or something. Without those, it still looked lovely - in black, against a taupe cincher, olive jacket and a shocking jolt of aubergine satin at the throat.
It set the mood for what followed, both in the autumnal colour palette and refreshing realism of the clothes. These were garments women could imagine themselves wearing not just to glide along a red carpet (or, to be honest, into a costume adaptation pitched circa 1894 in the Middle East), but to live their everyday lives in. That is, everyday lives that necessitate high-waisted, wide-cut trousers combined with a liquid slither of silk as blouse, or jackets and coats with peplums furled about the hip like dying leaves curling in on themselves. Autumn/Winter this season is, and Ackerman was inspired by the idea of falling foliage as nature disintegrates at the end of the season. Hence the autumnal colour palette of merlot, glossy navy, khaki and sumptuous shades of ochre, sulphur yellow and rich red.
What really stood out here, however, wasn't the Ackermann we already know and love so well - the glossy silks and, indeed, that always-exquisite colour palette - but the garments that looked exciting, different and new. The trousers, high in the waist and wide in the leg or slender and cropped at the ankle, the silk jackets falling to just above the knee, draping gently against the body and layered over slim blouses, and the closing dress slashed to waist and sliced at mid-calf. A touch of sharpness, and realism, to the exquisite softness of Ackermann's ouvre that satisfyingly kicked this whole look slap-bang into the here-and-now.