Ann Demeulemeester by Sophie Elliott

The Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester first came into the fashion world as part of the Antwerp Six. Demeulemeester and five other students came to London fashion week in 1987 to show their collections. Luckily for Demeulemeester Barbara Weiser of Charivari placed an order for her collection. Demeulemeester attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium. Drawing naked women at the Academy inspired her to design clothes. She currently lives in Antwerp with her husband and son, which is where she opened her first shop. This enabled her to be involved with her customers as much as possible. She now has shops in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul.

One of Demeulemeester’s main concerns is for people to feel comfortable in her clothes, so for every garment she makes she has different prototypes for people to try on, as she knows that not everyone has the same body shape. Demeulemeester believes that fashion is about beautiful clothes “but always respecting the person who will wear them” [i]. She thinks that fashion communicates with people and it should express different emotions. She is very involved in the design process and at first insisted on not having any assistants, as “she’d rather do things herself than have them done badly”[ii].

Demeulemeester’s clothes are very subtle and they “don’t scream status”[iii], she doesn’t follow the fashion trends, but sticks to what she wants to design and what she thinks her customers need, “often her best designs are the ones she arrives at by solving her needs” [iv]. There is a similarity in every one of Demeulemeester’s collections: “she uses every new collection as a means of fine tuning her ideas”[v]. Black and white are her preferred tones for most collection. If there isn’t an improvement between collections then Demeulemeester feels that she has let her customers down. One can see that she is a designer who’s main concern are her customers. Demeulemeester wants them to be themselves in her clothes and to not follow the sense of “superficiality” [vi] that many women abide to these days.

There was a niche in the market that Demeulemeester discovered. This was the idea of mixing masculine and feminine designs together. What inspires her is “the feminine and the masculine within each human being”[vii]. She discovered that there were many girls including herself who liked to wear male clothes. However, the fit was wrong or they weren’t sensual enough. Therefore, she redesigned men’s clothes so that they weren’t drowning women. In 1996, Demeulemeester introduced a menswear collection. She showed it together with womenswear in Paris, believing that “men and women are together in life” [viii] and therefore should not be separated in fashion. However, Demeulemeester had to conform to the fashion world and show the lines separately

Her understated clothes have a mixture of sensuality, masculinity, femininity, punk rock, and an edgy style. They are “simple, impeccable tailored clothes” [ix]. Her designs are linked with the idea of movement. She used the example in her 1999 ID interview of a t-shirt gliding off a shoulder: it is emotional and sensual. However, it must happen naturally and not with an oversized t-shirt. Therefore, in her designs “she wondered how she could create a new kind of oversize without losing sensuality”[x]. Demeulemeester believes that the body comes alive by the way it hangs on someone. She tries “to cut some soul into the clothes, so you can feel the body inside”[xi].

Demeulemeester is very inspired by music and has become friends with Patti Smith over the years whose music often plays at the shows. According to Demeulemeester, “good fashion is like rock music; all anarchy and revolt”.

Ann Demeulemeester, dubbed  ‘Queen Ann’ by the fashion press, knows her customers well and by wearing her well-designed, beautiful, comfortable clothes you learn about her as a person.


[i]. B-Guided: Interview with Ann Demeulemeester (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[ii]. Vogue USA: Ann of Antwerp (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[iii]. Ibid.

[iv]. Ibid.

[v]. The Guardian: In the Court of Queen Ann (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[vi]. New York Times: Ann of Antwerp (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[vii]. W Magazine: Ann of Antwerp (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[viii]. GQ Style: Ann Demeulemeester (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[ix]. ID: From her to Eternity (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

[x]. Ibid.

[xi]. GQ Style: Ann Demeulemeester (interview on-line); available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html; Internet accessed 23 April 2010.

Bibliography

“Ann Demeulemeester.” GQ Style, 2006. Available from

http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April 2010.

“Ann of Antwerp.” New York Times, 2006. Available from

http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April

2010.

“Ann of Antwerp.” Vogue USA, April, 2007. Available from

http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April 2010.

“Ann of Antwerp.” W Magazine, 1995. Available from

http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April 2010.

Richardson, Lucy Ryder. “From her to Eternity.” ID, September 1, 1999. Available

from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April 2010.

Selgado, Felipe. “Interview with Ann Demeulemeester.” B-Guided, 2001.

Available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html.

Accessed 23 April 2010.

Todd, Steven. “In the Court of Queen Ann.” The Guardian, February 8, 1997.

Available from http://www.anndemeulemeester.be/interviews.html. Accessed 23 April 2010.

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