After just three well-received collections, the designer and the French brand are parting ways.

When Virgil Abloh was appointed men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton earlier this week, replacing Kim Jones at the French label after the Brit designer exited in January (who was announced as the new men’s artistic director at Dior Homme, replacing Kris Van Assche, earlier this month), we assumed the latest round of menswear musical chairs was over. Turns out one more big shoe was yet to drop: Haider Ackermann and Berluti are parting ways.

Ackermann, the Colombian-born, Paris-based designer, showed just three runway collections for the French label, starting with Fall 2017. From the outside, it seemed a successful pairing: he built on the house’s leather-goods history to create clothes and accessories that were exceedingly elegant, timeless, and somehow totally modern, too. An Ackermann-designed camel coat wasn’t banker boxy or Slimane-level skinny; the fit was just right. His lapels didn’t drive home any retro references or propose doing away with lapels entirely—they were just great lapels. Ackermann’s Berluti goods were true luxury: born of good taste, made with the best materials found on this planet, and peppered with just the right amount of edge—and priced accordingly so (that camel coat rang in at about five grand). When the going menswear aesthetic is oversized, bedazzled, and logo-ed out, Ackermann’s clothes for Berluti were a refreshing reminder that there’s power in a uniform that doesn’t announce itself fifty feet away. It was fun, too, to see Ackermann generate an aesthetic different from the punk/goth/pirate/poet vibes that inform his own eponymous label. In a statement released by the brand, Ackermann says, “I am immensely proud to have been able to put my creativity at the service of this House with an exceptional know-how, whilst working with a passionate team. I thank them for their commitment.”

The exact reason for Ackermann’s departure was not given, which makes the announcement a curious one. Each of Ackermann’s three collections were lauded by critics; they also spawned both a silhouette (slim pants cropped high and anchored by boots or single sole dress shoes) and a color palette that has trickled all the way down to the world of fast fashion. If the house’s cash cows are its shoes and bags, then maybe lower-margin items like coats and blazers getting so much shine wasn’t good for business? Or maybe Ackermann’s departure clears the way for another designer to step in.

Which brings us to Kris Van Assche. When Van Assche left Dior Homme earlier this month, clearing the way for Kim Jones, his own departure announcement included this eyebrow-raising addition: “Kris Van Assche will continue to express his talent and creativity within the LVMH Group. His next assignment will be announced at a later stage.” If Van Assche is keeping in the LVMH family and the menswear game, a quick look at the conglomerate’s fashion brands offers up few options for a designer of Van Assche’s caliber and tenure. Vuitton is starting a new chapter with Abloh. Clare Waight Keller has found success at Givenchy. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are the architects of Kenzo 2.0. Hedi Slimane just started his work at Céline. J.W. Anderson is chugging along at Loewe. Fendi seems like an odd fit, and neither Loro Piana, Rimowa, nor Thomas Pink offer the kind of clothes or accessories you’d consider capital “F” fashion. Which leaves Berluti, which now has an open seat. Van Assche-to-Berluti certainly makes sense, but if there’s one thing you can count on when the designer carousel is spinning, it’s the occasional surprise (see: Alessandro Michele, who leapt from relative obscurity to the big chair at Gucci, with stunning results). Whatever the case, we should know who lands at the French label soon enough: “Berluti will announce his successor shortly,” the statement announced.

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