Ann Demeulemeester felt that her Spring collection for men marked the end of a story, in much the same way that the collection's inspiration, Arthur Rimbaud, the boy king of poetic decadence, reached the end of the line in a remote African outpost 120 years ago. For Fall, the designer felt it was time to man up, with something more graphic, maybe even abstract. "But strong in my way," she quickly added. In other words, Ann's Rimbaud was never going to go Rambo on us. He did, however, absorb more tribal influences into his mode of dress.
That was obvious in the reworked silhouettes and rethought proportions. The high-waisted, hyper-tailored elegance of old surrendered to a much more straightforward elongation, as in sweater dresses that plunged floorward, or mid-calf shirtdresses in gauzy fabrics, both worn over legging-narrow pants. There was something Celtic about the result. The man who wore the black and red T-shirt dress (which needle-punched gauzy wool and cotton together) would, more likely, be illuminated by the glow of a sacrificial Druidic pyre than the guttering wick of a bookish Flemish candle. The same pagan mood was captured in an outfit that layered a blazer over a long zipped top over a long shirt over baggy culottes over leggings.
The transition between the last chapter and the next wasn't entirely successful for Demeulemeester—too many darn dresses—and the designer may have realized that herself, because she wasn't so willful as to turn her back on the romantic looks that her fans crave, like the cavalry officer's coat or the cutaway jacket. When she introduced some sky blue duchesse, it was as though this was not so much an end as an epilogue. Demeulemeester's man was simply layering worlds old and new on the road to find out.