It was with equal doses of surprise, sadness and a kind of premature nostalgia that I received the news of Ann Demeulemeester’s departure from her own fashion label, two weeks ago, in a handwritten note sent across the media. It started like this: ”As a young girl I dreamed of having a voice in fashion. I worked hard to realize this dream and now I fell that I accomplished this mission. I always followed my own path…”
Ann Demeulemeester with her son Victor, via tumblr
Graduated from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1981, Demeulemeester quickly added her distinct, highly individual aesthetic among the original Antwerp Six, launching her own line in 1985.
She lives and creates in an expanded (to include her atelier) concrete cubic construction, a Le Corbusier building she bought with her husband, the photographer Patrick Robyn, when they were both students, the building was a derelict and they had help from their parents… talking about lucky opportunities… It is the only Le Corbusier building in Antwerp, dating from 1925.
In her dynamic, poetic style influenced by the punk movement, her gothic designs are fluid yet structured, avant-garde yet wearable, moody; her dark, monochrome palette of black has been enhanced over time, with countless shades of grey and a few surprising, playful springs of colour; her sources of inspiration include the poetry of Rimbaud and the rebellious androgyny of her friend/muse/sometimes model, Patti Smith.
Patti Smith by Annie Leibovitz for Ann Demeulemeester, via tumblr
Ann Demeulemeester is, first and foremost an artist; she became a fashion designer because, three years into art school, she was more interested in what the art models were wearing, than the drawing itself.
She went on designing cloths that move you and move with you, impeccable, timeless, trend- and fashion-proof.
Her creations, season after season, did not just bring Ann clients; they brought her devoted followers!…
The future? “Nothing precisely, I never plan things, the future is more exciting if it stays open… I’m aware of time and try to live my life to the fullest…” [Ann Demeulemeester interview with Elizabetta Maze for NNM.Studio].