Belgian Designer Haider Ackermann, Who Counts Tilda Swinton as His Muse, Makes His First Trip to Los Angeles

The designer is unveiling his fall 2011 collection at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Thursday night.

Super stylish Angelenos in the know, like boutique owner Des Kohan, jewelry designer Loree Rodkin and fashionista/yoganista Anna Getty, have been wearing the cool leather jackets, skinny leggings and draped wrapped t-shirts by designer Haider Ackermann for some time. Now, the Colombian-born, Paris-based Ackermann is winning a celebrity following as well, dressing the likes of Tilda Swinton and Janet Jackson.

This week, he arrives in Los Angeles for the first time, to unveil his fall 2011 collection at a party Saks Fifth Avenue is throwing him Thursday night at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Saks is picking up his fall looks at retail, which is a major move for an avant garde European designer. (In L.A. Fred Segal Melrose has been carrying his hip but chic clothes for a while – so has Theodore on Camden Drive. ) This means American retailers think he’s ready for the big time – not just Paris and New York insider fashion world types.

One of the ways this happened is that Ackermann’s collections have changed and grown: he went from rocker chic in mostly leather to now more architectural silken chic with edge. His fall collection does have its share of leather – mostly in belted full-skirted longer coats – but it’s the way Ackermann did “color block” -- combining in this case, jewel tones of blue, green and garnet – in raw silk pants, wrapped halters, and long fishtail skirts shown with other-color wrapped raw silk shirts – that got stars like Swinton and Jackson on his team. Swinton, who’s helped make unique clothing brands like Jil Sander and Viktor & Rolf much bigger names around the world, has become Ackerman’s muse. She wore one of his blue and green silk pants looks to the Cannes Film Festival premiere of her film Let’s Talk About Kevin, and another Ackermann fall 2011 look at the recent Terry Gilliam Honorary Dinner at Istancool in Turkey. Janet Jackson might have looked the best she’s ever looked at the AmFAR AIDS Benefit Gala in Cannes, wearing a Haider Ackermann fishtail long skirt and wrapped shirt -- it was simple and chic, but figure flattering and still a standout.

So what with celebs now picking up on Europe’s hippest designer, Ackermann’s inroads into Hollywood are having their imprint. Particularly with Karl Lagerfeld announcing recently that he has a contract with Chanel for life, and can choose his successor when and if he chooses to retire. He was quoted last year as saying, “If I had to choose right now, my successor at Chanel would be Haider Ackermann.” Not a bad recommendation. His name has also been kicked around for the Dior post left open by John Galliano’s departure. Whatever happens, look for a new name on the red carpet come awards season next year, and for the fall movie season.