A decidedly Goth fashion crowd occupied the ninth floor of Barneys New York on Wednesday night.
Despite the funereal sartorial palette, they were not in mourning. It was a celebration of Ann Demeulemeester’s new tome from Rizzoli, and the reclusive Belgian designer was on hand to sign copies, her big blue eyes peeking out from under one of her many bowler hats. The thick, linen-wrapped book, priced at $100, documents the retired designer’s career from 1982 to 2014.
This story first appeared in the October 31, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The event boasted another unmissable attendee: Patti Smith. The singer-songwriter, artist and poet is a longtime friend, muse and collaborator of Demeulemeester’s. She also wrote the book’s introduction.
“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Patti at Ann’s fashion shows,” said Simon Doonan, who later introduced the singer before she performed to a rapt audience. “I first saw Patti play in the late Seventies, early Eighties. She’s a rule-breaking, genius, unconventional girl. I think they’re soul sisters.”
Robert Geller, Jennifer Fisher, Mark Lee and Lisa and Richard Perry mingled among the designer’s all-black-and-leather-clad disciples, frequently getting scolded by public-relations flacks for taking iPhone photos of Smith and the designer, the pair sitting down to sign copies for much of the night. Jamie Bochert, in a head-to-toe Demeulemeester look, was escorted to the front of the line with her copy in hand. “I’ve been a fan of Patti’s forever — her poetry, her songs, her writing,” she said.
Taking the stage with her guitarist Lenny Kaye, Smith looked ever the Demeulemeester poster girl in a jet-black blazer and waistcoat. “It’s not so strange for Lenny and I to be playing in a store,” she said. “When we first started playing together in ’71 and then ’72 and ’73, it was really hard to get jobs for people like us. We often played in record stores, book stores, alleys — any place we could. So, I always get nostalgic to play in a store. I’ve worked behind a counter.”
She dedicated a couple of songs to Demeulemeester and Patrick Robyn, the designer’s husband, and the crowd sang along to her famous “Because the Night,” though Smith altered the chorus slightly: “Because the night belongs to lovers, Because the night belongs to Ann.”