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As Ber­luti be­gins a new chapter in its sto­ried his­tory, with the appointment of Haider Ack­er­mann as Cre­ative Di­rec­tor, Esquire sits down with the Colom­bian-born de­signer to find out more about what makes a fash­ion mav­er­ick, his work for the mai­son, why he

Esquire (Singapore) - - Brand Story -

It’s nice to give a per­son the im­pres­sion that you did not cap­ture their en­tire per­cep­tion. It stays in their mind, but what was seen? What are the de­tails that you didn’t see?

Esquire: Let’s be­gin. Haider Ack­er­mann: You’re well-pre­pared.

Esquire: I want to start by ask­ing about how your name al­ways seems to come up when­ever a Cre­ative Di­rec­tor po­si­tion falls va­cant at a fash­ion house. How do you feel about that? Haider Ack­er­mann: There are mo­ments when it can be a bit scary, in the sense that peo­ple start to watch my ev­ery move like see­ing jour­nal­ists camped out­side my apart­ment. It takes a toll on you. You feel hon­oured that peo­ple think that you are suit­able, and you reach a point when you re­alise that you have to take your­self very se­ri­ously be­cause other peo­ple do. So, it is re­in­force­ment, it is knowl­edge.

Esquire: So, why Ber­luti, and why now? Haider Ack­er­mann: There’s al­ways a right mo­ment for things. And per­haps, I was not pre­pared be­fore and wanted to do some­thing else. I think Ber­luti came at a mo­ment in my life when I was a lit­tle more re­laxed, when I was ask­ing my­self, “Okay, I’ve been do­ing this for so many years now. What’s the next step? Yes, I’ve had of­fers, but I’ve re­fused them. I need to do some­thing.” And sud­denly, a brand that does only menswear comes my way—which is the most un­ex­pected thing. You can see the chal­lenge, and your cu­rios­ity gets sharper, and you’re like, “You know what? This might be the right mo­ment. This might be the thing that takes me off my road and ex­cites me.”

Esquire: To push you to do some­thing that you’ve never done be­fore? Haider Ack­er­mann: Yes, and to push me to do things dif­fer­ently, push me to en­ter new worlds, and to ex­cite my­self. Be­cause we need to feel alive and kick­ing, and this was some­thing so un­ex­pected that I knew the au­di­ence would be sur­prised—and I would be sur­prised too. Esquire: Do you re­gard your work at Ber­luti as an evo­lu­tion or a rev­o­lu­tion? Haider Ack­er­mann: I can’t say it’s an rev­o­lu­tion be­cause it would mean that I am say­ing the Cre­ative Di­rec­tor be­fore me (Alessan­dro Sa­tori) didn’t do as good a job as he could have. It’s a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. I think that we are two dif­fer­ent hu­man be­ings, with dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. I’m very happy and very hon­oured to fol­low him be­cause he’s es­tab­lished a foun­da­tion, one built on work­ing with beau­ti­ful tex­tiles and ma­te­ri­als. He has a know-how about suits, and he had this road to take, and per­haps, he laid down a foun­da­tion for me at Ber­luti, so I’m quite grate­ful to him, ac­tu­ally. It’s up to my team and me now to take the road that we would like to take, while re­spect­ing all the codes of the house, be­cause I’m not here to push ev­ery­thing away just to write my own story. No. I would like to con­tinue the story that’s been told so that the per­son who comes af­ter me will be able to con­tinue that road, and then, to­gether, we can make Ber­luti what Ber­luti is sup­posed to be.

Esquire: What’s your in­spi­ra­tion for this col­lec­tion? Haider Ack­er­mann:: The in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the col­lec­tion?

Esquire: Has this been asked way too many times? Haider Ack­er­mann: Why, can you see it on my face? [ Laughs]

Esquire: Yes. [ Laughs] Let me pose the ques­tion to you in an­other way. Haider Ack­er­mann: Please.

Esquire: In the press re­lease for the col­lec­tion, there were a few key words in your mood board like “Trash”, “Dark” and “Wood”, and the con­cept fo­cuses on a man at dawn af­ter he has col­lected a wealth of noc­tur­nal ex­pe­ri­ences. How did you come up with that idea? Haider Ack­er­mann: One needs to be very care­ful be­cause, as I’m lis­ten­ing to you, I re­alise that I never thought about it in that way be­fore. When you say, “noc­tur­nal life”, you think im­me­di­ately about youth. I don’t think the Ber­luti man is that youth­ful. He’s not a man who goes club­bing. That’s not him. He’s a man that, at night, thinks about the choices that he’s made in life, know­ing that he had to walk down a par­tic­u­lar road and not turn back. This hap­pened in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing, and so he is much more a man who is con­fronted with things in life, and he needs to make choices and, to make choices, you re­quire a cer­tain ma­tu­rity. So, he’s not in his twen­ties. I am think­ing of a man who is in his thir­ties or for­ties, you know? Or even in his fifties.

I wanted the col­lec­tion to have this kind of at­ti­tude, a kind of lone­li­ness, a kind of care­less­ness. The man isn’t con­scious of the fact he wears ex­pen­sive clothes. There’s an un­con­scious­ness about it. He knows—I mean ob­vi­ously, he bought them—but he doesn’t treat them as such. I think there’s noth­ing more beau­ti­ful than a man wear­ing cash­mere coat, but not sub­mit­ting it. There’s a real beauty and lux­ury about a gar­ment when you don’t put it on a pedestal. And that piece comes alive be­cause that man has de­vel­oped a kind of in­ti­macy with his clothes. He’s just wear­ing them. That’s the mood that I wanted to give. I want to make the Ber­luti man less pre­cious about the clothes that he wears.

Esquire: I would like to talk about your first fash­ion show with house. The point of all fash­ion shows is to present clothes in their most beau­ti­ful form. But when I watched your show, not only did I see the clothes, but also the men who are liv­ing in them. Haider Ack­er­mann: Yes. But I think what was very im­por­tant was for the show to set the mood. I wanted to show that the clothes are alive. I would have loved for the clothes to have been lived in for half a year be­fore we pre-

sented them, like they had be­come part of the mod­els. I don’t be­lieve that all the mod­els should be hang­ers on the run­way, but rather should be men of a cer­tain re­al­ity. I wanted the au­di­ence to feel like they were hav­ing cof­fee on a side­walk—I should have served you guys cof­fee [ Laughs]— and just ob­serv­ing th­ese mod­els walk­ing by. If some­thing caught your eye, it was be­cause it trig­gered some­thing in­side.

Esquire: It’s like a fleet­ing mo­ment. Haider Ack­er­mann: Ex­actly. It’s a stolen mo­ment.

Esquire: In a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view, you men­tioned that you are a wom­enswear de­signer at heart, yet you’ve al­ways had great suc­cess in menswear. I re­mem­ber be­com­ing aware of “Haider Ack­er­mann” when Kanye West wore a bomber of yours and it sold out im­me­di­ately. Haider Ack­er­mann: Did you see Kayne in the water in Prague?

Esquire: No. Haider Ack­er­mann: You should see that con­cert. Yes. He sent me a video, and I was like, “Se­ri­ously?” I wrote to him, like, “Dude, se­ri­ously, you just wore my bomber jacket in the water? You jump in the lake?”[ Laughs]

Esquire: Do you feel that de­sign­ing wom­enswear has helped your process when de­sign­ing for Ber­luti? Haider Ack­er­mann: Yes—and vice versa. I think ev­ery­thing falls into each other, they in­ter­twine and it’s in­ter­est­ing. I can take things that are Ber­luti to my la­bel, but at the same time, I think there are things from my la­bel that I can bring to Ber­luti, with­out fear of there be­ing a neg­a­tive ef­fect, even if each ex­ists in a dif­fer­ent world.

Esquire: One of the big­gest trends in fash­ion right now is sports­wear. Ev­ery­one’s go­ing a bit sportier. Haider Ack­er­mann: Do you think that trends in­ter­est me?

Esquire: What I feel is that you didn’t do that at all in Ber­luti. You could have done some­thing that’s a bit sportier, but you are still fo­cused on a very mil­i­tary, very for­mal kind of dress­ing. Can I ask: why did you make that de­ci­sion? Haider Ack­er­mann: Be­cause a trend is some­thing that... it’s a word that I don’t like. It’s not in my dic­tio­nary. It’s not some­thing that makes me dream or de­sire. I of­ten feel that when there’s a trend in front of me, I want to go the op­po­site way be­cause I think, as de­sign­ers, we shouldn’t all fall into one. Yes, ev­ery­body’s sell­ing train­ers. You know that ev­ery house has train­ers, but you need to un­der­stand that it’s part of do­ing busi­ness.

But it also means that we should be ahead of this, and that’s our job. Per­haps, in the past, lots of head de­sign­ers brought train­ers to their houses. Now it’s be­come a global thing, but trends are so bor­ing to me.

I’ve never been trendy. I’ve never been in­ter­ested in trends. But it’s busi­ness that we have to keep an eye on. So yes, there will be a sports el­e­ment in the col­lec­tion. If I see a lot of sneak­ers on the streets, of course, it will be in­grained in my mind.

In the past, de­sign­ers dic­tated trends. Now, we are look­ing at what is hap­pen­ing in the world, and ac­tu­ally, it is the street that has more in­flu­ence than de­sign­ers. The role has changed. I need to find my way into it.

At Ber­luti, we will have some sports­wear—there will be sneak­ers, and there will be for­mal shoes. The

Be­cause be­fore, the de­sign­ers were dic­tat­ing what was hap­pen­ing. Now, de­sign­ers are look­ing to­wards what is hap­pen­ing in the world.

idea is to mix all that: to have for­mal shoes with jog­gers, fin­ish­ing the look with a cash­mere coat. That’s how men are dress­ing nowa­days be­cause they have no time to think, so they put ev­ery­thing to­gether with­out think­ing. And that’s go­ing to be my Ber­luti man.

Esquire: Do you try to de­sign your pieces so that they com­ple­ment each other? Haider Ack­er­mann: Noth­ing should work to­gether. I’m al­ways sur­prised when peo­ple come to my show­room and say, “Okay, I should buy this, be­cause it goes with what was shown last sea­son. No. You buy a piece be­cause you love it and it doesn’t have to fit in with any sea­son or what­ever.

It’s just like fall­ing in love with some­thing. It’s go­ing to be your own story, you as a hu­man be­ing, an in­di­vid­ual, and you style it the way you want to. And ev­ery­one’s got a story to tell.

Esquire: I feel like what you just said is a way to de­fine what patina is. Haider Ack­er­mann: You see lay­ers of it, and some colours don’t fit each other, but at the end of the day, it all comes to­gether and it’s great.

Esquire: And it’s yours. Haider Ack­er­mann: Yes. And it’s your story. And this is im­por­tant. We’re liv­ing in a world where ev­ery­thing starts to look the same. We are all in­di­vid­u­als. Ev­ery­one has a story to tell. De­signs are there only to pro­pose, but not to dic­tate.

Esquire: In­ter­est­ing. I like that. Ber­luti is known for its crafts­man­ship with leather. Could you tell me more about your ap­proach to leather in this col­lec­tion, and what are your plans for the ac­ces­sories range? Haider Ack­er­mann: You want to know my plans? [ Laughs]

Esquire: Yes please. Haider Ack­er­mann: You have to put my plans in there?

Esquire: You can share a snip­pet of your plans if you like. Haider Ack­er­mann: Of course, leather is a very big item in Ber­luti. And this is also one of the rea­sons I was ex­cited to col­lab­o­rate with Ber­luti. Leather is some­thing that’s very sen­su­ous. It’s soft, it’s hard, it lives, and you make it your own. And leather is con­stantly evolv­ing, be­com­ing more beau­ti­ful over time. So, that was the at­trac­tion for me. It’s some­thing that I would like to ex­plore in Ber­luti. It’s some­thing I’m re­ally, re­ally at­tracted to.

Esquire: You use a lot of boots in your col­lec­tion. Can I ask why? Haider Ack­er­mann: Ber­luti is known for their for­mal shoes, and it’s some­thing that I will in­cor­po­rate more of into my work for the house. But for the first col­lec­tion, I needed to give a dif­fer­ent kind of en­ergy. I think that it was all some­what ex­pected from me, and I needed to chal­lenge my­self also. So, I wanted to have boots, but in croc­o­dile or lizard.

Tak­ing an item from a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion, but re­mak­ing them in an al­ter­na­tive ma­te­rial, gives it a twist, which makes it quite dif­fer­ent. It also lends a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude be­cause when you wear for­mal shoes, you walk dif­fer­ently, as op­posed to com­bat boots. Pair­ing boots with for­mal suits gives a lit­tle bit of a clash.

Esquire: What would you like your legacy at Ber­luti to be? Haider Ack­er­mann: My legacy? Oh, my Lord. Dude, I’ve only done one sea­son. [ Laughs] You make me feel like I have one foot in the grave. I still have a few years to go. I don’t want to work on a legacy. At the end of my con­tract, I just want them to say: “Haider was at the ser­vice of Ber­luti and that’s what he did, and he did it well.” And that the per­son who fol­lows me will be in­spired by that and con­tinue down the same road. That’s all. I’m there for them. If I could make a col­lec­tion that ev­ery­one can iden­tify with the house of Ber­luti, that would make me very proud. My legacy… you are stress­ing me out now. [ Laughs]

Esquire: I’m so sorry! [ Laughs] Put it this way, how would you like peo­ple to re­mem­ber Haider? Haider Ack­er­mann: I would love my friends and loved ones to re­mem­ber that we had a great time to­gether, that I was a faith­ful friend, and that I was hon­est. That’s all I care about.

Esquire: Is there any­thing that I didn’t ask but you would like to add? Haider Ack­er­mann: There are so many things you didn’t ask. I think you ask good ques­tions. [ Laughs] You know what? I’m go­ing to spend the whole night think­ing about my legacy now. Do you un­der­stand?

Esquire: If I have any fol­low-up ques­tions, can I speak to you over the press din­ner to­mor­row? Haider Ack­er­mann: You’re go­ing to in­ter­view me over din­ner to­mor­row?

Esquire: No, we can just talk as friends if you like. Haider Ack­er­mann: Do you think that af­ter one in­ter­view we can be­come friends? [ Laughs] That’s easy for you.

Esquire: I hope so! But tell me what do I need to do to be a friend of Haider? Haider Ack­er­mann: What you need to do to be a friend of Haider? Oh, good Lord. That’s not go­ing to be easy, dude. I live in a very small world, and have had the same friends for the last 20 years. I don’t have paint­ings. I don’t have pho­tographs. I don’t have many houses and apart­ments, but I do have friends. And I have friends who are so faith­ful to me that, some­times, I’m so sur­prised and shocked that they stand by my side, no mat­ter what. And that’s just great. So, my own form of lux­ury is my friend­ships. So yeah. Let’s see.

Esquire: We’ll see. Haider Ack­er­mann: Time will tell be­cause you don’t build a friend­ship in one day. A friend­ship is an or­ganic thing. It’s a grow­ing story.

Esquire: Thank you. it’s very nice to meet you. Haider Ack­er­mann: Ab­so­lutely, like­wise.

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