Ann Demeulemeester returned to its spiritual home, the Couvent des Cordeliers, part of a 16th-century convent and now an event space prized for its Gothic architecture.
The Antwerp-based fashion house is entering its third season under the ownership of Italian retailer Antonioli, which installed a new design team, and it was a clever move to reclaim this atmospheric piece of its brand DNA, its dark, hardwood floors familiar with the brand’s coveted riding boots and suede sneakers.
Here was a fine and focused show, the collection built on long, slim silhouettes and plays on masculine tailoring. Detachable white collars added a rakish touch to slim jackets and topcoats; to lean dresses with deep V-necklines, and to a satin-backed vest elongated into a long, sensual dress with high slits.
Here is a brand where gender is defined more by the person than the clothes, and the fedoras worn by many of the models made you wonder if you were looking at Patti Smith or Leonard Cohen, two music personalities with links to the house.
The press notes describe “shared attire,” although many of the women’s looks hugged curves and revealed legs via high slits. Streamers attached to lapels, a new brand signifier, occasionally sparkled with dark crystals. One monastic look was a real stunner, pinstripes achieved by slim lines of embroidered jet beads.
The dry fabrics, and the glossy shearlings, telegraphed luxury in the brand’s quiet, nonchalant way. The palette, only black, navy and gray, felt more dignified than solemn.
Inside a small white envelope on each seat was a black-and-white postcard of feathers arranged in a circle, with paint strokes converting them into a peace sign.