Sébastien Meunier faces a tricky task as creative director of Ann Demeulemeester: navigating a fine line between respecting the heritage of the founder and putting his own stamp on the label.

 

His fall collection bore the markers of allegiance and had the makings of a funeral procession. After a 40-minute wait in the pitch black venue, guests were treated to a display of unrelenting darkness — the all-noir palette pierced occasionally by flashes of metallic sheen or an abstract print of streetlights.

 

Meunier used layering to add depth to his somber silhouettes, with some fine examples of the label’s signature vests worked under military-inspired jackets in asymmetric constructions.

 

Some had a kinship with the creations of Haider Ackermann, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since both labels are owned by Belgian entrepreneur Anne Chapelle. Meunier used draping as a deft counterpoint to all the mannish tailoring, with such items as a shroudlike, long-sleeved top and twisted wrap skirt.

 

After last season’s foray into bondage territory, die-hard fans of the label — which turns 30 this year — will no doubt rejoice at the plethora of black jackets and overcoats on offer. But Meunier seems to be approaching the landmark in a distinctly melancholy mood.