Berluti Through the Eyes of Haider Ackermann

[RE]DEFINING LUXURY. Through his second menswear collection for Berluti, Haider Ackermann weaves a story of luxury as seen through a new lens of his own design

Haider Ackemann the man behind Berluti’s designs

Born in Colombia, trained in Belgium and triumphed in Paris, Haider Ackermann is a force to be reckoned with in the world of luxury fashion. His rise to fame began in 2001 with the creation of his own label, which bore his signature style of simplicity merged with asymmetry. Since then, some of the biggest fashion houses have sought out his talent. A couple of years ago, however, he was named creative director at Berluti—a brand synonymous with luxury. It was a most unexpected development, but at the same time extremely exciting. Sure enough, his debut menswear collection for Berluti drew a lot of interest. And, of course, that  same buzz surrounds his second chapter for the brand’s spring/summer collection.

Pieces from Berluti’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week

DAMAN: Berluti’s Spring 2018 menswear collection marks your second for the brand. In a nutshell, how would you describe this collection?
Haider Ackermann: The inspiration came from the American-German photographer Erwin Blumenfeld. He was famous for his experimental double-exposures and reworking of colors until they morphed into abstract delights. He was unique in his ability to nuance colors, creating subtle new hues. So, for the spring/summer 2018 collection, I wanted to tell a story of a reinvented palette where traditional summer hues are seen through a modern and dynamic lens.

DAMAN: What are your personal favorite pieces from the collection?
Haider Ackermann: I like the collection as a whole because all the pieces combined tell a story

DAMAN: Material-wise, were there any particular fabrics that you wanted to highlight?
Haider Ackermann: I would say silk, as it punctuates all the silhouettes: a jersey silk tank top, the lining of a jogging pant or a silky band on a trouser. I wanted to play with the codes of the materials and twist these casual pieces.

Pieces from Berluti’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week

DAMAN: Were there any particular challenges that you wanted to tackle with the spring 2018 collection?
Haider Ackermann: At Berluti we are trying to write a story. Each new collection is a new chapter. I was really excited to do the spring/summer 2018 collection. The first show, fall/winter 2017, was kind of an introduction—the first page of the book. We are writing the rest of the story with the following collection and explaining who this Berluti man is.

DAMAN: Much like your debut collection for Berluti, you showcased several looks on female models. Is there a message you wanted to convey this way?
Haider Ackermann: These pieces are men’s clothes they are not women’s. I always find it very sexy when a woman wears her man’s clothes to make it her own.

DAMAN: On a related note, there are some who see the collection’s relaxed elegance as also being quite gender fluid. What do you think about this view?
Haider Ackermann: I don’t mind if this is perceived as gender fluid. As I was saying, there is a certain sensuality in a woman wearing men’s clothes. I even think they express more their femininity this way.

Pieces from Berluti’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week

DAMAN: Do you feel that the distinction between “masculine” and “feminine” looks still play a big role in menswear today?
Haider Ackermann: What I wanted to tell is different. I just like this feeling of wearing a lover’s clothes. It’s neither a boyfriend nor a husband. It represents a kind of secretive love that only belongs to you. You cannot let go of that piece of clothes, you like it.

DAMAN: When you’re designing a menswear collection, do you have a certain type of man in mind? Or do you perhaps design for yourself?
Haider Ackermann: I would say that the man I design for my own brand is closer to the man I am, whereas when I design for Berluti it is more the man I aspire to be. The Berluti man is at the crossroad between sobriety and luxury. I am trying to design a wardrobe of timeless pieces that you can keep and which will evolve with you and time.

Pieces from Berluti’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week

DAMAN: And when you’re envisioning a new collection, what do you usually start with? A certain theme, perhaps? Or color palette?
Haider Ackermann: Very simple: it starts with music. Before starting to design a collection, I often fall into a certain mood or aura.

DAMAN: If there’s something that most people agree on, it’s that your creations for 2018’s spring/summer season are very luxurious. What does the concept of luxury itself mean to you?
Haider Ackermann: To me, luxury should be a personal something you keep for yourself. It can be in the details, in the lining, the collar or maybe the inside pocket or the way the jacket is constructed. It is not necessarily something you show; it can be selfish in a way.

A showcase of Berluti’s opulent leather offerings

DAMAN: All in all, however, how would you describe your creative direction when you create new pieces and collections for Berluti?
Haider Ackermann: Berluti started making shoes since 1895, and they already had their own set of thinking model. However, since they wanted to work with me, naturally I must have something they want, and part of what they wanted was to try different things, so I chose to use lizard skin. This type of skin looks more vanguard and sharp, and is more distinctive than the average leather. We will of course continue to feature the emblematic Alessandro or Andy design in our stores, but I would also like to bring some new things to Berluti and to open new horizons. Berluti has an established customer base; but don’t forget that the new customer base is also expanding. I hope to find a balance between attracting new and old customers at the same time. I want what Berluti has achieved from 1895 until now to be passed on with a sense of continuity, so I have no plans to suddenly change its existing characteristics.

“The man I design for my own Brand is closer to the man I am, whereas when I design for Berluti it is more the man I aspire to be”

DAMAN: Of course, you were first and foremost known for your own label which bears your name. What would you say is the biggest difference between Haider Ackerman as the designer of his own eponymous brand and Haider Ackerman as the creative director of Berluti?
Haider Ackermann: For my own label I can do all the craziness and funkiness. That man is not really grounded; he is more of a dreamer. With Berluti, it’s more how I would dream to be … but the intimacy is important and I’m trying on every piece because I want each piece to be mine as well. I would like to keep that cashmere coat and live with it, to take time with it. And I think that’s the essence of Berluti. It’s just a question of detail. It’s a question of centimeters, of millimeters, to give an attitude to the person.


Bags from Berluti

DAMAN: How would you describe Berluti’s DNA today?
Haider Ackermann: Berluti is an absolute luxury brand; I have a lot to learn here. Craftsmen’s attention to every detail is what I still need to observe and figure out.

DAMAN: Moving forward, how will the brand’s menswear creative direction evolve with you at the helm? How do you envision Berluti along with the men who wear the brand’s pieces to grow and develop in the years to come?
Haider Ackermann: I hope the Berluti men can have many different roles and being completely different in their lives. I hope that Berluti’s clothing can be related to life, and about the necessities of life. I have begun to be attracted to a traditional sense of elegance. I will tell a story through the details in my clothing, which will be combined with my personal characteristics, but the general direction is still towards elegance.

A showcase of Berluti’s opulent leather offerings

DAMAN: Today, more than ever, everything is on social media. Has this digital revolution affected the way you view and design fashion?
Haider Ackermann: You know, sometimes you have to embrace our current era. The reason I went to apply for an Instagram account is entirely because there was a person who created a fake account using my name, and they were posting some photos that weren’t mine.  It was really embarrassing. I was told that the only way to make sure this account would no longer be able to spread such false information was if I opened a real personal account.

“I always find it very sexy when a woman wears her man’s clothes To make it her own

DAMAN: On a slightly related note, has the role of the designer—or in your case, creative director— changed from the way it was, say, 10 years ago?
Haider Ackermann: Today, everything has to be so speed-oriented. Everyone wants to get everything immediately. However, the nature of design is to create a desire. This kind of desire is impossible to be satisfied immediately; it can take months. The excitement of anticipation should remain part of the process. Things like bespoke craftsmanship cannot be finished right away. Every detail throughout the making process determines it.

A showcase of Berluti’s opulent leather offerings

DAMAN: You’ve been in the fashion business for quite a while. What has been the most important lesson from this journey? Something, perhaps, a new generation of designers could learn?
Haider Ackermann: I would say: “Please dream, and don’t forget anything about your dreams.” If you want to make a good collection, you need to have a good, creative team with you, who is dreaming as much as you, to make that thing happen. If you are in a relationship, you need your partner to dream as much as you. So, yes, don’t forget your dreams, but live your dream together with other people, because that’s how you make it happen.

DAMAN: Final question: If you had to pick one thing that has been consistent throughout your whole career, what would that be?
Haider Ackermann: Time. Taking the time to make mistakes, and to rise up again and fight against human stakes. Those are the things that will make you evaluate, and make you grow. It will make something beautiful come out of you.

Bags from Berluti