- Nele Bernheim
(b Kortrijk, Belgium, Dec 29, 1959)
Belgian fashion designer. Ann Demeulemeester studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp (1977-81). In 1982 she won the first-ever Gouden Spoel (Golden Spindle) award. She created the company bvba ‘32’ in 1985 with her photographer husband, Patrick Robyn, in Antwerp. Her breakthrough came with her first women’s collection as a member of the informal group known as ‘The Antwerp Six’ at London’s British Designer Show in 1987. Her first line of shoes and accessories followed in 1988. Demeulemeester established herself as a leading avant-garde independent designer with her first show in Paris in 1992. Her designs, chiefly executed in black and white, are typified by the union of contrasts such as elegant flowing drapery and sharp cuts.
Demeulemeester’s vocabulary consists of a poetic mix of modernism, sensuality and a spark of rebellion. Her game of contrasts—a sharp cut and flowing layers—demonstrates a gamut of emotions. The silhouettes she has been creating since the beginning of her career are innovative and modern and have proven to be strong enough to survive short-term trends. The coexistent subversive sobriety, uneasy romanticism, and rough finish of her creations earned her the label ‘deconstructivist’ in the early 1990s. However, her output has changed and evolved from one collection to the next with the distillation of her ideas. Demeulemeester works with a compelling sense of abstraction, often disrupting codes and playing with the notion of androgyny. She explores a silhouette in depth, in all its possibilities. Her creative process is almost scientific. Solving successive design problems, she arrives at new forms, and a collection is built that generates tension by means of contrasts. The search for the right cut, the right form, the right drape, the right proportion animates Demeulemeester’s love of transformable clothing. An intricate assemblage of ties and slits permits the perfect drape. Her garments suggest movement, even when the wearer is standing still. Trousers appear to slip off the hip; blouses slip off the shoulder; a dress is tight on one side of the body and loosely draped over the other (...