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As Ann Demeulemeester’s show drew to a close, it seemed the unthinkable was about to happen. The collection, shown to a sweeping, dramatic, classical score, had not a whisper (or, more appropriately, a wail) from the Belgian designer’s favorite chanteuse, Patti Smith. But then the orchestra’s strings faded—and the opening chords of Smith’s Horses rang out.
Expecting Demeulemeester to abandon Smith would be akin to seeing her show bright, pretty florals: It’s just never going to happen. She has laid claim to a dark, gothic sensibility that variously embraces military uniforms, slouchy tailoring, and raw-edged shearlings and furs mixed with tough leathers.
There was a lot that was good: narrow-shouldered, high-collared coats that buttoned on the side and oversized blousons that were based on the trench, the volume kept under control by their low-slung belts. And there were some wonderful surprises: a flash of silver from chain mail minis layered with big sweaters and tight pants; glossy leather gauntlets whose cuffs were lavished with fur; and a color palette that strayed beyond black to include chestnut brown, soft vanilla, and winter white—the latter at its best in a glazed-leather trenchcoat.
In 1986, Ann Demeulemeester went to London during fashion week to showcase her collection together with fellow graduates Walter van Beirendonck, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee.
From this point on, they would be known as the iconic ‘Antwerp Six’.
Her collections are often described as dark, funerary, yet poetic and very emotional. In 2000 for example, she designed a collection from a sheer materials, embroidered with quote’s from Patti Smith’s ‘Woolgathering’.
Typical Ann Demeulemeester silhouettes are very elongated, decorated with feathers, chains. She is also known for her iconic heavy boots, her triple lace boots and the lace-up gladiator sandals being street style photographers’ favorites.
She left her brand in 2013, meaning that only vintage Ann Demeulemeester clothing is still designed be her.