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Ann Demeulemeester Menswear

August 2, 2015

Practically speaking, there is no such a thing as Ann Demeulemeester Menswear.


The Belgian designer is renowned for her mixed androgynous collections worn by strong bohemian women and poetic brooding men, providing for all gender overlaps in between.


Ann Demeulemeester started her own label in 1986 and introduced her men’s line in 1996, which smoothly blended in with her existing designs, providing subtle but notable differences in style, cut, materials and accessories that highlight the wearability across genders.

Ann Demeulemeester Menswear for Poets and Bad Boys

The core of the collections is the slim silhouette of a slightly starved grouchy poet, which would easily fit in the dreamscape of Helmut Lang or Hedi Slimane, as worn by the young Nick Cave.


Music remains constantly relevant and the source of inspiration for Demeulemeester – the same as with her womenswear – and this is reflected through carefully chosen soundscape for her shows as well as casting young upcoming musicians as models.


These are clothes that will inevitably come to a bad end, on the gallows, in debtors’ jail or pierced in a duel; it is practically impossible to have an ordinary day while wearing a perfectly rumpled shirt, topped with an oversized coat and a bad weather hat, especially with a black ribbon of death dangling precariously from the lapel.


Sleeves fall over slender wrists exposing inky fingers crusted with heavy silverware. If the Devil wears Prada, Dracula wears Ann Demeulemeester Menswear.


Rimbaud as depicted by Henri Fantin-Latour in his ‘The Corner of the Table’ (1872)

Rimbaud as depicted by Henri Fantin-Latour in his ‘The Corner of the Table’ (1872)


As Rimbaud writes: “A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematised disorganisation of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men… Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone, he attains the unknown.”


If there is one garment that Ann Demeulemeester Menswear has transitioned from granddad to dandy, it’s the waistcoat. She cuts several variations every season, from leather to gossamer, louche to lascivious, never missing a beat.


Worn alone, it’s elegantly punkish and gauche; over a white shirt it becomes the armour of apparitions and romantics. Finally, something that replaces confidently that wardrobe staple, the white t-shirt.


The label accessories are beautiful things to behold: silver talismanic rings, voodoo amulets, spun from heavy gauge metal, leather, feathers, stone – they have that bespoke yet playfully thrown together feeling: something found and remade, worn for its meaning rather than looks.

The future of Ann Demeulemeester Menswear

While it seems that the women’s collection has plenty of power left in it now Ms Demeulemeester has withdrawn from her label, it’s harder to say the same for Ann Demeulemeester Menswear.


Ann Demeulemeester Menswear Spring-Summer 2014 introduces patterns and colours unheard of in the shady groves of the poets, unless the poet in question is Dr Seuss. Cute Ms Marple hats notwithstanding, it is hard to take the bold deckchair stripes seriously.


Black flocked velvet flowers drip indecently down the inner trouser leg or crust the shoulders, while poor up-to-no-good boys try really hard to keep a stiff pout. It’s pompous and overworked, not a welcome departure from the label of such a clear and disciplined vision.


Could this be a take on Rimbaud’s call for systematised disorganisation of all the senses? Or a death toll for a much-loved muse of lyrical darkness? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I wanna tell ya ’bout a girl…