Every so often, a movie comes along that looks like a dead-cert fashion inspiration. To ardent fans, Todd Haynes's Dylan deconstruction I'm Not There seemed like one such. But so far this season, not a glimmer of Dylanophilia, at least until Ann Demeulemeester set her show to multiple versions of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by everyone from Antony and the Johnsons to Patti Smith (no Ann without Patti) to Bob himself. Backstage, Demeulemeester talked about being inspired by the song's uplifting, positive vibe. In actual fact, it's rather a wearily resigned little ballad, which meant it was perfectly in tune with the Ann of old. A reminder of that Ann was provided by the opener of her latest collectiona scrawny preacher man in a shrunken crow-black suitbut what followed was as uplifting and positive as its inspiration wasn't. She created prints from the blossoms in her own garden, toned them in dusty pink, purples, and lilacs (like the hydrangeas she stuck in hat bands) and cut them into jackets, shirts, pants, and waistcoats. Another print looked like candies. Such uncomplicated sweetness was something new for her.
But Demeulemeester's signature proportionslong when you expect short and vice versaprevailed, though the complicated layering was much lighter than it looked. Technical feats accounted for the feather-lightness of Mongolian lamb coats and jackets (the fleece was sheared and manipulated in artful ways). The same airy movement was duplicated by the fringing spilling from pockets, dripping from hat brims. And the collection's defining piecea waistcoat with a big crimped collaracted as a flattering frame for the face. Call it consistency of vision, or whatever you like, but the peculiar beauty of such flourishes has turned Demeulemeester's shows into a high point on the Paris fashion calendar.