That’s Haute. Jean Paul Gaultier by Haider Ackermann SS23 Couture

Oh Haider, we’ve missed you. The news of Haider Ackermann being the next guest designer for Jean Paul Gaultier‘s haute couture dialogue felt unreal. Until the first model appeared on the ice-blue carpet under the roof of Gaultier’s house. Everything came together: the sense of the haute values of design being the point of it. The models who really delivered a show and poses. Gaultier’s haute couture house ateliers who expressed it in body-sharp tailoring, and crisply-scissored drape. And of course Haider Ackermann, the designer who with his signature style and incredible artistry could lead a couple of snoozy Parisian houses (Givenchy, for instance). Ackermann is the fourth of the designers to have been tapped on the shoulder for a one-season collaboration, since Gaultier retired. He follows Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, Glenn Martens of Y/Project, and Chitose Abe of Sacai. Ackermann, the most grown-up guest thus far, was perhaps aesthetically the least likely yet to have been invited to respond to Gaultier’s storied metier. As he admitted just before the show, “I don’t have a sense of humor at all! I have my gravity, and he has his generosity and joy – we are two worlds apart. But at the same time, we have many things in common. Because we both love women, we adore women, respect women.” The convergence he found began with Gaultier’s tailoring. “To go back to the essence of his work, which was perfect. People forget how immaculate his tailoring was. His work was magical. So I tried to go back to the pure lines, to find a calmness and moment of grace. Because I believe his work was magical.” When the women began to walk out, they slowly and with a deliberate collectivity embodied the spirit of old-world couture stances, pausing to strike poses in front of photographers as if they were in an Irving Penn shoot. The pace and the intimacy of the staging meant that every single lingering silhouette and detail could be taken in close-up. The whiteness of the cuffs on immaculate black trouser suits, cut sometimes with tailcoats and conceptual plackets of frogging, sometimes reduced to pure minimal outline. One skinny-trousered two-piece came with a diagonal slash across the jacket and a hip-level obi-cummerbund – a stunning aesthetic fusion of Ackermann and Gaultier in one look. On top of that, Ackermann proved himself as a colorist and a dressmaker, draping extraordinary serpentine gowns and varieties of chic coat dresses with contrasting linings. It made it sink in how rare it is these days that outstanding drama and chic minimalism go together. Somehow, high fashion now has a need for being loud and gimmick-y. This, without turning backwards or being in the least camp, made a progressive case for the sensational powers of haute couture in the modern world. That was Ackermann’s intention: to bring the subject of haute couture back to the clothes. He did that superbly. “I knew Jean Paul liked my work, but I never thought this would come my way. I’m already a long time in business. It’s usually like, okay, give it to the younger ones,” he said. “And so, to design is one of the most wonderful feelings. I really love my job, and this made me love it even more. It’s been like a love affair between me, and the ladies in the atelier.” The arrangement with the house is for one season only. “It makes me sad to leave all this behind. But if I’ve created 10 minutes of grace when everyone can forget about their problems, and I’ve honored Monsieur, and something that’s also necessary for fashion in 2023, then I’ll be happy.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Tilda’s Cannes

I usually don’t do red carpet coverages, but Tilda Swinton (with a pinch of Timothée Chalamet) at this year’s Cannes Festival is an exception. It was a Swinton fashion week, if you ask me. This woman doesn’t only elevate each film she stars in, but she also serves looks like no one else. Whether it’s a custom, colorful ensemble by Haider Ackermann – one of her most frequent collaborators and, privately, best friends – or a Schiaparelli haute-shirt-dress, Tilda owned Cannes. Here’s a recap of her looks!

The Haider Ackermann look from Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premiere is everything. It included a cropped, pink satin bolero blazer and top, paired with an orange floor-length skirt. Never one to skimp on theatrical flair, Swinton wore sequin green sleeves underneath the blazer. Timothée in Tom Ford was a great addition.

Another Haider Ackermann look – this time, it’s all about impeccable, electric blue tailoring. Amazing.

Tilda fell in love with Daniel Roseberry‘s Schiaparelli, and this means we can expect seeing her in the Parisian maison‘s couture soon. For Cannes, she chose Roseberry’s haute classics. This crisp, white shirt(dress) is so chic.

Swinton in Virginie Viard‘s Chanel – I love. This white gown is so functional – perfect for the Cannes red carpet, yes, but I can also see it worn to the French Riviera beaches. It’s both elegant and easy, refined, yet approachable.

“Casual” done the Tilda way is going for over-sized Loewe by Jonathan Anderson.

Another Schiaparelli, another shirt, but a totally different vibe. Here, Swinton went boy-ish, and announced global peace with that beautiful, Picasso-esque dove illustration.

Maybe I’m not entirely a fan of this Chanel look, but then, here’s the ultimate, sophisticated pirate à la Parisienne mood.