When the rest of fashion is running in the direction of color, glamour, and lighthearted frilliness, where does a woman who believes in black, androgynous layering, lived-in leather, and symbolic slogans go? She could just keep on walking with sister Ann. Ms. Demeulemeester is not about to renounce a lifetime's work just because of the season's dominant trends. On the other hand, Demeulemeester is a sensitive designer who recognizes a change in the air.

For summer, she added white to her favorite spectrum of darks, and searched for a way to express the tendency toward shortness and flounce in skirts. One solution had her adding puffy cargo pockets to her favorite hip wraps and coats, letting them trail floppily beneath the hemline. She also made her signature leathers as airy as possible, slashing them with concertina cuts until they were as fine as paper mesh, and layering them among the washed satins and chiffons.

As a nod to optimism, she sent out an enlarged rose print (done in black and white) and T-shirts with "'Til Roses" written in mirror-image graffiti. She even forced herself to send out a single outfit in a muted, sanded orange, though she admitted backstage that it had been a struggle. "I searched for a long, long time for this color," she laughed. "I was afraid it would be too much."