Haider Ackermann is highly considered one of fashion's greats. At one point, the late Karl Lagerfeld openly declared that Ackermann should be the one to replace him at Chanel should he retire (but of course, like most creatives, Lagerfeld changed his mind a few months after).
Ackermann's masteries of fabric manipulations and drape have earned him a devoted legion of following. His eponymous fashion label may be on pause at the moment, but the man has been busy racking up collaborations in the past couple of years—a sportswear collaboration with Fila and earlier this year, presented a stellar collection under Jean Paul Gaultier's couture house. And at the same time, Ackermann continues to dress an A-list clientele the likes of Timothée Chalamet and Tilda Swinton, who have all made noteworthy (and at times, viral) moments on red carpets in his creations.
His latest collaboration is a first for the fashion designer: a collaboration with luxury skincare brand Augustinus Bader.
"Haider and I met at various events over the past few years," says Charles Rosier, the CEO and co-founder of Augustinus Bader. "Our paths first crossed at a private cocktail party honouring Azzedine Alaïa, which was a large gathering of creative and like-minded people. But it wasn’t until we met again at the Marrakech Film Festival that we actually discussed collaborating, and I was curious to see how Haider could interpret our vessel to create something truly unique. Fast forward to multiple meetings in Paris, moodboards backwards and forwards, many zooms later and it resulted in the partnership you see today."
Augustinus Bader is relatively new in the skincare industry. It was officially established in 2018 but the work that's made it a competitive entrant in luxury skincare is the result of more than 30 years of research by stem cell scientist and doctor of regenerative medicine, Professor Augustinus Bader. The brand's first launches—The Cream and its more potent sibling, The Rich Cream—have gained such a cult following that those who swear by them, wholly believe in their ultra moisturising benefits.
It's this fifth-year anniversary that have brought Ackermann and Augustinus Bader together. The fashion designer has reimagined The Cream and The Rich Cream in two separate limited edition sets. Each features a 50ml Nomad Refill and chrome 50ml Nomad ("This collaborative partnership also sees the vessel be refillable, meaning that this bottle is an object d’art to keep and reuse again and again. It’s a keepsake forever, which was an important element of our partnership," says Rosier) designed by Ackermann that's a departure from the usual packaging by Augustinus Bader. And for that extra fashion-forward touch, the vessel is topped with Ackermann's name done in the blue that the skincare brand is associated with.
To find out more about the idea behind the collaboration, there's no one better than Ackermann himself to expound on the inspiration and his connection to beauty.
What was it about Augustinus Bader as a brand that got your attention?
When I first met Charles I was really intrigued about the idea of collaborating as I loved this brand and everything that it stood for: luxury, attention to detail, results-driven, dedicated to its craft. I wanted to do my research and use the creams first. The creme had such a calming effect on me, now I am devoted. The first word that spoke to me about the brand is when they talk about “healing”. Healing is such a big word, but something we all deserve.
How does the Augustinus Bader brand ethos tap into the DNA of your brand?
There's a lot of alignment here in the respect of the “metier” of hands-on luxury craftsmanship in the work that we both do as brands: whether it’s creating a collection by hand or creating a cream to be massaged into the skin—it's a very beautiful thing to do. I always come back to this idea of working around imperfection to elevate something to be the best that it can be.
What was the inspiration behind the chrome packaging?
When we first spoke about this project, immediately I knew it had to be a mirror. The packaging needed to reflect its owner. To have a mirror where you could look at yourself, and apply your cream wherever you are and have it be a reflection of yourself. I also wanted to have something very pure to mirror the purity of skin, as well as the intimate moment when you are applying your daily ritual. It’s also very calming to touch and to look at, which is also vital, because it's about trying to find peace with yourself in that moment of application.
What does beauty mean to you?
To define beauty is rather difficult and very personal, but the search for beauty is an intriguing and exciting path. When we look at our reflection in the mirror, our imperfections are often the first thing we notice and our reflection might not always be what we want it to be. But it’s always been my ambition to make a woman feel comfortable with herself, from the clothes that she wears to how she adorns her skin. I remember when I was young, looking at my mother and the tenderness with which she caressed her face and put her cream on. I was fascinated—there was something supremely beautiful about it. I have always appreciated the gesture of beauty.
Has the significance of beauty always tapped into your collections?
I have always said that backstage in the beauty area is where the major happens. The face is like a full diary into someone’s soul: you see every emotion and expression line, be that happy or sad. I could spend hours observing someone’s face—it’s like reading a poem. So when I create a piece, I am fantasising about the whole life behind the kind of woman who will wear it. The complexion is a canvas from which I begin this story.
Haider Ackermann - Augustinus Bader Limited Editions will be available exclusively at the Augustinus Bader pop-up at TANGS at Tang Plaza from 20 October 2023.