NEW ICONS

HARLEQUIN JET FIGHTER

The Ambiguous Romance of the MA-1

Text: Theresa Patzschke

Photography: Kenya Cobayashi

NEW ICONS CELEBRATES THE STORIES BEHIND PARTICULARLY NOTABLE PIECES FROM THE SEASON. 

It is almost unbelievable how fast a combat jet can cross one’s field of vision. It enters on the left side and leaves immediately on the right. Or, perhaps it appears just in front and then disappears above your head again. Yet, this alienating nature of jets only becomes fully apparent when four of them fly together in a diamond formation at an air show. They race through space but, unlike birds, they do not move themselves. You can find those diamonds repeated on a bomber jacket from Haider Ackermann, subtly integrated into the jacket’s texture. This jacket is highly charged. When it comes to MA-1’s, there is an intriguing confusion of aesthetics. So many different subcultures wore them—from skinheads to rappers to everyone in between. The question is: Why does this form intrigue us? Fact is, we just love bomber jackets, and this probably has something to do with their ambiguity. 

Following Ackermann, there is no need to fully understand. You could think of him as the guardian of the mysterious, his message being “If you are aware of everything, you’ll lose your fantasy and miss the beautiful.” It’s like looking at a painting, for example at Cézanne’s Harlequin. We don’t need to know much to see the deeply romantic and ambiguous subject of the portrait in his check-patterned suit. He is the observer and the wire-puller, he plays with fiction and reality, with heaven and hell. In so doing, he makes us dream. Ackermann is something like him. “I just do things, I don’t know how.” Given this frank and bold statement, we can be absolutely sure of Ackermann knowing more than he would ever admit.

Romanticism is essential to Ackermann. If the past is dark, it helps to think of it in a romantic way as we try to embrace the future. Ackermann’s jacket is embroidered with yellow, white, and golden graphics. Out of the alternating check-pattern of a Harlequin’s costume, he gives life to an explosive utopia of cultural references—here, fighter pilots, Rihanna, geishas, and skinheads are united happily ever after on the enduring form of the MA-1. The whole thing is framed with a simple white line on the collar and cuffs, saving you from flying too far out.

Text: Theresa Patzschke

Photography: Kenya Cobayashi