Ackermann surprised his audience with half a dozen lady models – wearing their Berluti boyfriends’ clothes

Berluti F/W 2017

Artful Dodger Dandies Rule

Fashion likes few things more than a debut, and the opening collection of Haider Ackermann for Berluti – an Artful Dodger moment of rock gent tailoring – certainly attracted the great and the good.

One could have staged a board meeting of LVMH – so numerous were the luxury group’s executives at this show, staged with suitable devil my care attitude in the upper floors of the Grand Palais, the runway battered like a decayed Victorian pub. The Big Daddy of luxury Bernard Arnault sat front row, close to his eldest son, Antoine, CEO of Berluti, and a gang of hip stars – Tilda Swinton (a long time Haider acolyte), Usher and Bryan Ferry – a former poster boy in Berluti ad campaigns.

Berluti
The designer’s opening set the scene: a crisp double breasted cashmere coat worn with a crew neck and pleated pants

Ackermann certainly did not disappoint. Using the full power of Berluti’s atelier and its private tailor Arny’s, he sent out a series of sharp looks, with just the right dose of detailing to ad panache. His opening set the scene: a crisp double breasted cashmere coat worn with a crew neck and pleated pants with a leather chain and laced boots. His next beige coat came with a stand-up Astrakhan collar, worn over a grain leather jean jacket. It’s said that the peripatetic youth of this Colombian-born designer has led to his unique cross cultural and asymmetrical fashion sensibility. But in this show he kept things strictly tailored – all the way to the divine eight button jackets and country squire in town three-piece corduroy suit worn by veteran model Scott Barnhill. Every shoulder had padding. All very gentlemanly, yet with a hint of the rogue about the cast, adding to the overall attraction. And explaining the presence of a half dozen lady models – wearing their Berluti boyfriends’ clothes. Who wouldn’t fall for these guys?

Berluti
Ackermann kept things strictly tailored – all the way to the country squire in town three-piece corduroy suit worn by veteran model Scott Barnhill

Wisely, Haider maintained a signature detail of his predecessor Alessandro Sartori – contrast reverse collars. Though Ackermann took the idea much further. Instead of just suede he also employed snakeskin and silk. Moreover, Ackermann’s famously alluring color palette was put to work in a super cool burnished gold duster and a fiery red velvet dinner jacket.

“Not really my own color palette. If you look at the patinas of Berluti in the past, you had those deep reds and amber and cream,” smiled Ackermann backstage.

“I wanted to make luxury a little more careless; less precious, and bring it on the streets. Which is why we had some many different guys from skinheads to long haired rockers. Berluti should be for a lot of different men,” he added.

Berluti
Ackermann’s famously alluring color palette was put to work in a fiery red velvet dinner jacket

Not every idea worked: quite what a vagabond minstrel in a flight jacket and jogging pants with guitar and backpack was doing in this show was hard to comprehend. Though it did underline the breath of Ackermann’s vision. And, surprisingly, for a brand founded in 1895 as a bookmaker, the footwear was oddly reined in. The snazziest single pair – black crocodile boots – were carried over a model’s shoulder. These complaints aside, this was a triumphant collection – where an avant-garde designer coupled with the full force of a luxury brand to make an important fashion statement. Insouciant luxury at its best.