You never know when a Haider Ackermann show is about to start, not even when Tilda Swinton and her partner, the artist Sandro Kopp, emerge from backstage with the kimono-clad Japanese artist Setsuko Klossowska de Rola and take their front-row seats. Nor when a spoken-word soundtrack begins, with former model Scott Barnhill drawling the lyrics from the sad George Gershwin song The Man I Love (sad because he never arrives). It's only when you barely make out a model in a dark corner of the runway do you realize the collection is underway.
Models emerge one by one, minutes apart, and float down the wide runway of the ethereal Bercy arena at an achingly slow pace. Not even Karlie Kloss delivers her signature brisk walk. They are wrapped and layered and dripping in acres of sumptuous fabrics, Ackermann's trademark. Yet this time they are not radiating bright henna hues, another trademark. Instead they are in a palette of rich browns, grays, and midnight blues, with three pristine white ensembles at the end. Pants are tighter than tight, belts wider than wide, and bits of lace have crept in. Some jackets are snug, while others fall off one shoulder in sultry, elegant dishabille, as if we're witnessing an older woman proposition a younger man.
These are the adored tropes of Haider Ackermann, the man we love. And while his rumored ascent to Dior never happened, something great will arrive.