This designer doesn’t need the spotlight. Just give him an island and some fresh fish.
Haider Ackermann knows how to roll with the punches. Despite the fact that his Fall 2010 collection got stuck at customs the day of his first North American runway show (held at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum in June), the Colombia-born, Belgium-based designer, who usually shows in Paris, remained the very definition of cool—which could also describe his namesake line, launched in 2001. Ackermann uses laser-cut leathers, floor-scraping skirts and avant-garde draping, so it’s no wonder A-listers like Tilda Swinton and Penélope Cruz don his sexy long, lean looks for the red carpet and beyond. FASHION caught up with Ackermann at Yorkville boutique 119 Corbò the day after his show to talk throwing out his BlackBerry and escaping with friends.
Where did you grow up? “Until 12 I was in Africa, and then Europe.”
Many of your designs feature organic shapes. Did spending time in these places create this connection to nature? “I think it’s due to my parents; they love nature. Every Sunday, we would have to go to the forest and walk. After a while it becomes a part of you.”
What’s the theme of your Fall 2010 collection? “It’s about holding yourself straight and protecting yourself.”
If you had to work with only one fabric, what would it be? “Leather. There’s something very animal about it, something very sensual.”
Where do you escape? “I have a place where there is no phone, no computer.”
No BlackBerry? “That kind of annoys people when I go there. And then you realize how bizarre it is that we are slaves to our BlackBerrys and everything. It’s really scary. I was thinking of throwing away my BlackBerry today. I think I will, actually!”
Where is this magical place? Is it a secret? “Yes, it’s where I like to lose myself. You just eat what the fishermen bring every night, so it’s a really lost place. There are no shops—you can only drive around with a car. So it’s magnificent, and you really come to peace because you just confront yourself and nature, and your friends who are with you, and that’s it!”
What do you do there? “Read. That’s a beautiful way to escape—you travel with your mind.”
How do you blend your creative and commercial sides? “I want to understand what people are buying and for what reason. I am surprised that the younger generation is even more aware of it—they know all of the pieces by heart and how much they cost.”
Because of the Internet. “That’s horrifying [laughs]. I’m not on Facebook. I’m not on Twitter. A little bit of discretion can be quite elegant.”
First published in Good News Etc November 2010