Haider Ackermann puts on an ultra energetic show for Fila in Manchester
An old railway depot in the south-east of Manchester, with a few rain infiltrations here and there and music blasting in the huge dark space. Haider Ackermann chose this set for his return to the catwalk in collaboration with Fila, after more than two years of absence. The energetic show was held on Thursday night, presenting a collection with a strong sporty aesthetic in a fun and fresh palette.
Running shorts worn over leggings, loose tracksuits, nylon jackets, and flashy colors, like sky blue, apple green, salmon pink, acid yellow and vitamin orange. The vibe was clearly 90s, as if the French designer had gone to look for his inspiration on the set of a rave scene from a Ken Loach film and then reinterpreted the style thirty years later in a more sporty and contemporary version.
The first full white looks appeared in the distance in a halo of bright light. More models followed, walking the endless runway, dressed as Catwoman in a figure-hugging suit and a twirling overcoat, or in nylon outfits covering them from head to toe with matching gloves, a bit like the anti-Covid suits. Colors were introduced gradually. Starting with a fluorescent green in a tight suit, a shiny anorak, a T-shirt or a pair of socks. Then a bolder green in a woolen cap.
Graphics became more and more present thoughout the show with damier prints, check prints and black and white stripes. These prints were on shorts, silk pants, reversible raincoats lined with green and pants sets. Then came an electric blue number. A short dress with cut-outs exposing the shoulders, styled with a pair of gaiters and removable lycra sleeves. Followed by an oversized tracksuit in aqua green and elegant monochrome knitted outfits, made up of pants and cardigan jackets, in a bright green or turquoise blue.
Other looks included multicolored minishorts, bodysuits, hoodies, little openwork dresses and faux leather swimsuits. The stretchy materials outlined the silhouette, wrapping the whole body, from legs to heels and arms to hands. Not to mention the head accessories like swimming caps, for a futuristic look.
Suddenly, four rather fit models took to the runway, wearing leggings and tight shirts, in constrating colors like purple and orange, green and pink and yellow and turquoise. They strut down the catwalk to minimal techno music which accompanied most of the upbeat show. When reaching the end of the podium, a group of models turned back, crossing paths with those who were still moving forward. The music accelerated and the models picked up their step. This repetitive and fast rhythm echoed in the Haider x Fila logo, which run along the legs or sleeves, as well as at the bottom of knits or on removable collars.
Ackermann played on sporty vibes, in details, such as the elastic ribbing on the sleeves of T-shirts or the swimming goggles transformed into retro sunglasses. A black suit edged with a colored braid reminded us of a tracksuit. A jogging suit fitted at the calves was offered in a chocolate velvet. A classic jacket, with a buttoned pocket and a row of black buttons on the wrist, was cut in a fluorescent yellow nylon. Similarly, a traditional black coat, also cut from nylon, seemed impalpable.
"Sport is the new sexy," Ackermann said backstage. "Nowdays, all young people do sports, they are much more body conscious than we were." As for the mix between sports and couture, "it came naturally. We see so much sportswear in the street, that it is no longer surprising. To inject tailoring into it, that's what gives it more strength. That's what I like. I like the idea of a sporty suit," he says.
"For me, it was a new approach. I wanted to look for a form of electric energy with Fila, whereas my usual work is much more wandering, romantic and distant. Here, I wanted to be really grounded in life,' confided the designer, who managed to bring a subtle underground fashion twist to Fila.
On this occassion, the unclassifiable designer, known for his talent in cuts and constructions and who has long been influenced by the cultures of the world, has shown himself in a new light... while waiting to unveil yet another of his facets next January at the helm of Jean Paul Gaultier's haute couture collection.
"This is the next step! Going from sportswear to haute couture, these are two totally different worlds, but they are similar at the same time, because they are all about the body," he says. With the Covid crisis, the designer, who was also Berluti's creative designer, known for creating timeless and sensual silhouettes, was forced to suspend his ready-to-wear brand. Since then, Ackermann has secured collaborations.
Before Fila and Jean Paul Gaultier, he worked in 2021 for the exclusive Belgian women's high-end label Maison Ullens. When asked if he plans to relaunch his label, founded in the early 2000s, which showed in Paris until February 2020, he enthusiastically answered: "I'll keep you posted!"
With this fashion show and its collaboration with Y/Project and Glenn Martens, Fila has gained even more visibility. Especially since the Italian sports brand, owned since 2007 by South Korean entrepreneur Gene Yoon via the company Fila Korea, invested in a highly mediatized event. Nearly 200 guests were invited to this special evening, which ended with a sumptuous candlelight dinner, including a bunch of celebrities, such as the American actress Chloe Grace Moretz, English actress Emma d'Arcy and star Andrew Garfield.
Australian actor Cody Fern was also present with his compatriot Jordan Barrett as well as Spanish model Manu Rios. And of course, Korean stars Krystal Jung and Kim Woo-Seok also attended the event.
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