If there had been any doubts about Haider Ackermann’s arrival as a Parisian powerhouse, Saturday’s show put a swift end to them. Conspicuously absent from the crowd were those ubiquitous crystal-encrusted, shoulder-padded jackets (French editors’ uniform of choice) and I could see why. The door queue could have been a scene from an Enigma video, sans chanting. It undulated like a solemn caravan of monks intricately wrapped in monochromatic, mummy-like gauze. I tried to blend in by piling on as many scarves as possible.
Inside, there was no haggling over seats, no tiffs nor tantrums, just a zen-like devotion, the source of which became clear once the lights dimmed. The collection’s point of departure was simple enough: desert nomad with a bit of safari thrown in. This produced standout after outstanding standout: cropped safari jackets in washed silks with rolled-up sleeves, the slinkiest dhotis you’re likely to find and some breathtaking bias-cut knit gowns in dusty rose, saffron, violet and other desert-sunset hues—all while an eerie wind soundtrack slowly mutated into Moroccan wailing. But the true genius of the collection was its ability to take these stock references and transfigure—nay, transubstantiate!—them into a stunning series of draped ensembles that verged on the sublime. I kid you not. The model Hannelore sitting next to me gasped repeatedly, hand to mouth, and she was not alone.
After the show, Mama and Papa Ackermann were ushered backstage to add their congratulations to the throng of admirers. “C’est la plus belle!” they exclaimed in unison, and everyone nodded in agreement. One of the best shows, hands down.