Ann Demeulemeester usually starts somewhere so absorbing with her inspirations it's easy to see how her collections take on such enthralling shapes. Her latest outing was no exception. She wondered what eighteenth-century visionary poet William Blake would be like if he came back in 2011. The poetic dreamer is a staple character in her repertoire, but thoughts of Blake brought a more elemental quality to her work. Earth, air, fire, and water provided the framework. Demeulemeester's usual monochrome palette was expanded by the orange of fire, the gold of the sun, the blue of the ocean. Prints of snow and comets and stars against the black of night added a suitably cosmic tinge. Blake's writing also got the designer thinking about mythology. She wanted her models to evoke Pegasus, so there was horse hair woven into their hair.
But Demeulemeester is no airy fairy. She was quick to point out the new construction of her clothes, based around a series of precise horizontal cuts that left jackets and coats flying open. "It's not deconstruction," she said sharply, quite aware of the reputation that dogs her in the fashion world. "It's a new way to give movement." She was right. The hermetic layering of her clothing in the past had been opened up to the world, and it was inviting. Still, layering provided one of the collection's most alluring effects, with leggings and leather pants veiled in silk.
Longtime muse Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, in Paris to perform last night, leapt to their feet at show's end. Putting the official seal of approval on a vintage Demeulemeester collection, Smith swooned backstage, "I'm in love all over again."