A scratchy recording of an interview with art provocateur Marcel Duchamp opened Ann Demeulemeester's latest show. It came from an old disc her husband Patrick found in a market in Shanghai. "Wouldn't it be Dada to use this as the music in our next show?"' he wondered to Ann, and that's how the anarchic art movement ended up as her inspiration. But Dada was a subtle presence. The designer imagined an eccentric artist on holiday in the South of France, a man who felt free enough to mix dressing for morning, noon, and nighttime. What this meant in practice was Demeulemeester's favorite male musethe poetic dreamerwearing a little more color than usual and trading his customary dark layers for clothes worked in every shade of white. Stripes of red and orange on shirts, jackets, and linings evoked Riviera awnings and freshened up the palette. Jacquards in cotton added a luxe that was lighter than usual.
As for the art, a suit's stencil pattern suggested Braque's Cubist period. You're familiar with sleeveless shirts? Ann offered shirtless sleeves ("a remembrance of writers," she cryptically called them). In his interview, renowned dandy Duchamp talked about the durability of the nonconformist spirit. He would have recognized a like-minded soul in Demeulemeester.