Ann Demeulemeester returns, sort of
Ann Demeulemeester returned to Paris to see the rebirth of her fashion house Sunday, though from the front and not the backstage, and sitting snugly beside the brand’s new owner, Italian fashion entrepreneur Claudio Antonioli.
The collection, as it has been for the last few seasons, was designed by an in-house creative team. No one took a bow, which was probably just as well.
The show comes a couple of weeks after Ann and her husband cleverly revamped the house’s famed flagship in its hometown of Antwerp. So, given the deep pockets of Antonioli, who walked away from the sale of New Guards – the licensee of Off-White - with several hundred million euros, there was considerable anticipation about this show.
The result was a perfectly acceptable collection for Spring/ Summer 2022 bearing the label Ann Demeulemeester. Just that the magic seemed to be missing. No muse seemed to have greatly inspired the collection, with the possible exception of lady called Madame Merchandiser.
She has been present in multiple collections in Milan and Paris as houses grapple with a terrible year of business and concentrate on making predictable fashion to entice former clients back into their stores, or more often online.
In effect, the collection felt like a simulacrum of Demeulemeester, a designer known for her poetic style, rock 'n' roll attitude and ability to impart real emotion into her shows.
All that is not to say the collection didn't have plenty to wear. Or many of Ann’s signatures – multiple drawstrings; unlikely grommet placements; belts trailing from waist and quirky phrases written onto T-shirts. Or this season, sketched onto couple of models’ cheekbones.
Ann always loved a statement hat, and practically every model wore one - whether planter’s stove pipes or colonial playboy bowlers, with slim brims trimmed with satin.
The new team also updated the Ann silhouette, going for a wider, more forgiving version – with oversized jackets and billowing pants with large turn-ups – for both men and women in this co-ed show. Matter of fact, the tailoring was embracing and flattering, from the double-breasted jackets with endless lapels to the Edwardian gent coats worn elongated knit sheaths to some great mat leather rocker coats.
All told, a perfectly respectable collection that however lacked the edgy majesty of classic Ann collections, making it more like a Demeulemeester bis, rather than a real rebirth.
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