Ann Demeulemeester has carved out a separate space in the international design landscape, and populated it with a tribe of her own cool peoplemen and women who look like proud survivors of the apocalypse. It's a dark vision, but goth is too crude a label to slap on Demeulemeester. Her supple, patinated leathers and drapey layers of luxurious fabrics bound with multiple thick belts have a subtle elegance that transcends lumpen adolescent angst.
Like other designers this season, Demeulemeester thought about combat pants, but hers were done in velvet or soft fabric shot with Lurex and tucked into tough, high leather boots wrapped with thongs. Her vests, jackets and floorsweeping coats sprouted savage edges of long-haired shearling on the shoulder or about the neck, like hunting trophies.
If the impression Demeuelemeester's design gives is of a group of cave-dwellers, they're a sophisticated bunch with a taste for the trappings of civilization. At night, they wear delicate ivory sequin-scattered dresses, or make an entrance to a clan gathering in a sheer dress with a hood pulled mysteriously over the face. These may be troubled times, Demeulemeester seems to be saying, but that's no excuse to skimp on style.