"Graphic abstraction" was Ann Demeulemeester
's catchphrase for Spring. The makeup, the hair, the music contributed to a mood that was like silent-movie expressionism: stark and dark. It inspired a strong show whose single-minded message was rammed home by repetition. Demeulemeester claimed the notion of protection defined the collection. So there were buckled breastplates, quilted obis, and funnel collars rearing up over the face, all of them cocooning the body in defensive ways. At the same time, these structured items loaned a sculptural quality that felt new for Demeulemeester. If in the past she has offered flowing, poetic volumes, this collection found power in restraint: the military precision of a fitted jacket and short skirt, the volume of a parka cooped up under a fencing jacket. The designer hiked a skirt high on one thigh and let the rest of it fall to the floor on the other leg, a perfect paradigm for control and release. Quite how that notion translates to the shop floor is a matter for Demeulemeester and her store buyers, but the feel of this collection was definitely tighter and more contemporary, more sci-fi, less neo-medieval.