MEN'S FASHION WEEK SPRING 2018

How Berluti Seduced Haider Ackermann, Tilda Swinton and Natalia Vodianova’s Favorite Designer

With Berluti, Haider Ackermann is bringing his vision of nomadic cool to the guys—and a few adventurous women, too.


Photographs by Paolo Roversi

Why would one be seduced by something, only to throw it away after one season?” asked Haider Ackermann on an unusually balmy early-spring morning in New York. Ackermann was in town from Paris to shoot the new campaign for Berluti, where he has served as creative director for less than a year.

“Men want to have intimacy with their clothes and get old with them,” he continued. “Every time a man chooses the cashmere coat from his wardrobe, he remembers where he wore it before and who he was dating.”

When Ackermann was tapped to take over the storied French house, which has been turning out elegant, handmade shoes since 1895, and added ready-to-wear six years ago, the designer was not single, professionally speaking. In fact, while his name had come up for ­high-profile gigs in the past (Dior, Maison Margiela), he seemed rather devoted to his namesake men’s and women’s collections. But to the surprise of the industry, and also himself, he said, “I got seduced. I had long discussions with the house about beauty and what beauty means to me. The more we talked, and the more I learned the Berluti story, the more I knew it should be me.”

Vodianova and models all wear Berluti.

Photographs by Paolo Roversi; Makeup by Tatsu Yamanaka for Nars at Marie-France Thavonekham Agency; Hair by Wendy Iles for Iles Formula at Artlist; Models: Henry Kitcher at Tomorrow Is Another Day, Julian De Gainza at NEXT Models; Production by Tobias Brahmst at Shape Production; retouching by antonio at dtouch london; Digital Technician: Matteo Miani at DTouch; photography assistants: Jeremy Massa, Chiara Vittorini; fashion assistant: Rogelio F. Burgos

Over the years, Ackermann’s idea of beauty has emerged as a singular vision, independent of whatever vagaries may grip the fashion world. He’s as likely to be inspired by Saharan tribes and modern flamenco as he is by the warm palette of India or classical ballet, themes he’ll research with relish yet present in a minimal, elevated, coherent way. With an emphasis on avant-garde leatherwork and robe-like draping, his look could be described as androgynous—had he not transcended that trope long ago with a chic wardrobe devoid of obvious sex appeal, male or female.

When Berluti announced that it had chosen Ackermann, now in his mid-40s, the designer explained that part of what appealed to him about the job was countering expectations that he would work for an established women’s label. “And I didn’t want to make men more beautiful or handsome, but to give them an attitude, a maturity. I’m getting more mature, too; maybe I just want to be that man now.”

Haider Ackermann wears his own clothes.

Photographs by Paolo Roversi

Ackermann’s worldly approach calls to mind his own globetrotting background: He was born in Colombia, where he was adopted by French parents, raised in Africa and the Netherlands, and trained in Antwerp; he’s now based in Paris, where he launched his label in 2003, quietly but steadily developing his nomadic-monk sensibility.

In 2010, Karl ­Lagerfeld paid him the ultimate compliment when talking about a potential successor at Chanel with Numéro magazine. “I have a contract for life, so it all depends on who I would like to hand it to,” he said. “At the moment, I’d say Haider Ackermann.” With that kind of spotless pedigree and reputation, Ackermann became a catch for a house savvy enough to support his quest for noble beauty and global glamour. Berluti did just that, bringing with it the resources and patrimoine to realize Ackermann’s more fanciful notions.

“With Berluti, I’m clashing the idea of the brilliant, accomplished man in a tuxedo with the relaxed young dude in a parka,” Ackermann said. Last January, at the soaring Grand Palais, in Paris, his debut collection featured strong statements with a dandyish twist, like ­lambskin bombers with contrasting shearling collars or crushed-velvet suits worn cavalierly over singlets. Narrow rocker boots and leather ­guitar cases that models slung over their shoulders were contrasted with a parade of impeccable leather and croc bags. A few looks, including a purple velvet suit, were modeled by women.

Tilda Swinton’s Style Evolution: A Lot of Haider Ackermann

Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackerman at the premiere of A Bigger Splash in Venice, Italy, September 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Lanvin at the photocall for A Bigger Splash in Venice, Italy, September 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann at the premiere of Only Lovers Left Alive in Cannes, France, May 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Lanvin at the London premiere of A Bigger Splash> after party in London, England, October 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Chanel Couture at the premiere of Hail, Caesar! in Berlin, Germany, February 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Maison Margiela at a screening of A Bigger Splash in New York, New York, April 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Vionnet in New York, New York, April 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Valentino Couture at a press conference for Snowpiercer in Seoul, South Korea, July 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann at the 51st annual New York Film Festival, October 2013. Photo by Getty Images.

Tilda Swinton in Schiaparelli at the premiere of Snowpiercer in Los Angeles, California, June 2014. Photo by Getty Images.

attends the Sony Pictures Classics’ “Only Lovers Left Alive” screening hosted by The Cinema Society and Stefano Tonchi, Editor-in-Chief of W Magazine at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema on March 12, 2014 in New York City.

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For now, it’s unlikely this gesture will evolve into a women’s line, but then again, Ackermann’s own men’s and women’s collections could be swapped by gender-fluid customers. We live in a post-binary world, and Ackermann’s mind is most certainly of our time.

Not surprisingly, longtime friend and unwavering fan Tilda Swinton, who can pull off men’s and women’s clothes with equal aplomb, sprang to her feet following the show. Later that night, she joined Marisa Berenson, Liya Kebede, and Natalia Vodianova at Maxim’s for a celebratory dinner.

“I’m really seriously happy and proud to be here,” Ackermann gushed to his supporters. “The whole Berluti team, they took me in their arms like a family. That’s such a beautiful thing.”

If the word weren’t too old-fashioned for Ackermann, the aforementioned women would be considered his muses. But “it’s not about muses,” he pooh-poohed. “A muse is a silent person. Women nowadays are outspoken and, not to be vulgar, they have balls. If she wants, she’ll borrow the clothes of her lover. There’s nothing sexier than that. I’m interested in women more than muses. Women have the power at the end of the day.”

Natalia Vodianova, W‘s June/July 2017 Cover Star, Poses for Photographer Steven Meisel

Natalia Vodianova wears a Gucci shirt, hat, and scarf; Pomellato rings; Bulgari necklace. Beauty: Guerlain Lingerie de Peau foundation in Porcelaine, Palette 5 Couleurs in Rose Barbare, La Petite Robe Noire Mascara in Noir, Météorites powder pearls in Doré, La Petite Robe Noire Lip & Cheek Tint in Pink Tie.

Photograph by Steven Meisel. Styled by Edward Enninful. Hair by Guido for Redken. Makeup by Pat McGrath for Pat McGrath Labs. Manicure by Jin Soon Choi for JINsoon.

Natalia Vodianova wears a Balenciaga coat and dress; Preston & Olivia hat; Hermès scarf; (from top) Pomellato ring, Dale Novick Ltd. ring.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Marni dress and hat; Salvatore Ferragamo turtleneck; Gucci scarf; Sonia Boyajian Jewelry bracelets and rings; Miu Miu boots.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Marni coat; Patricia Underwood hat; M&S Schmalberg flowers; What Goes Around Comes Around scarf; brooch from Eleuteri, New York; Iradj Moini ring.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Chanel dress; Gabriela Hearst turtleneck; Stephen Jones for Marc Jacobs hat; Lisa Eisner Jewelry necklace; John Galliano gloves; Jocelyn stole; stylist’s own arm warmers.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

No. 21 top, skirt, and peplum; 
Tory Burch turtleneck; Gucci hat; What Goes Around Comes Around scarf; Elie Tahari stole; 
ring from Eleuteri, New York (right hand); Munnu the Gem Palace ring.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Miu Miu dress; Tory Burch turtleneck; Patricia Underwood hat; Maison Michel hat (underneath); M&S Schmalberg flower; Hermès scarf; Chopard necklace.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Gucci blouse, skirt, and hat; Hermès
scarf; Anya Hindmarch stole; 
(from top) David Yurman ring, Munnu the Gem Palace 
ring; Marni boots; Prada bag.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Louis Vuitton turtleneck, shearling, 
skirt, and bag; Preston & Olivia hat; (from top) 
Mimi So ring, David Webb 
rings; stylist’s own scarf.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Chanel blouse and jacket; Lola Hats hat; What Goes Around Comes Around scarf; Verdura 
ring. Beauty note: Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Black Treatment will give you a grin-worthy complexion.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Marc Jacobs coat, pants, belt, and bag; Stephen Jones for Marc Jacobs hat; What Goes Around Comes Around scarf; R13 sandals and 
socks.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Salvatore Ferragamo turtleneck; Preston & Olivia hat; Hermès scarf; (from left) Bahina Jewels ring, Sonia Boyajian Jewelry ring.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Prada dress and hat; Salvatore Ferragamo turtleneck; Louis Vuitton boots; Yves Salomon 
stole.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Miu Miu dress, coat, and shoes; 
Tees by Tina turtleneck; Preston & Olivia hat; Gucci scarf; Pomellato ring 
(right hand); David Webb ring; Tabio socks.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful

Fendi top and skirt; Loewe hat; Hermès scarf; Iradj Moini ring; Dior bag; 
Miu Miu boots. Beauty note: Legs get a lift with 
Guerlain Limited Edition Terracotta Jolies Jambes.

Photographs by Steven Meisel; Styled by Edward Enninful; Hair by Guido for Redken; makeup by Pat McGrath for Pat McGrath Labs; manicure by Jin Soon Choi for JINsoon. Art Direction by Jason Duzansky; Production by Steven Dam for Prodn at Art + Commerce; Retouching by Genevie Salazar for Gloss Studio; Production Manager: Wesley Torrance; Production Coordinator: Hanna Corrie; Photography Assistants: Ned Rogers, Max Bernetz, Michael Didyoung, Kevin Jude; Fashion Assistants: Dena Giannini, Devon Head; Production Assistant: Taryn Kelly; special thanks to Highline Stages
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Despite his success at Berluti, Ackermann is determined to continue his own women’s and men’s lines. “With my own collections I can do all the funkiness and craziness I like, since that kind of man is not especially grounded. He’s more of a daydreamer.” That was the undisputed message of his first foray into men’s wear, in 2010, when he mixed men’s pieces into the women’s collection he presented at the Pitti Uomo fair, in Florence, accompanied by model Jamie Bochert playing the piano live. Three years later, he officially launched his own men’s line. Spectacularly decadent, his debut show was essentially a paean to dapper fops through the ages—Rimbaud, Wilde, Swinton—incorporating lush, louche fabrics ranging from silks to iridescent jacquards.

It’s unlikely the more upstanding Berluti guy will ever reach this level of sartorial debauchery. But on this auspicious morning—with Ackermann in head-to-toe Berluti—it became clear he’s taking on his new role with well-groomed gusto. “It’s a new day, a new attitude,” he affirmed. “That, to me, is very seductive.”

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear Collection

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

Backstage at Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2016 Men’s Wear collection.

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