ANN DEMEULEMEESTER AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
When Ann Demeulemeester left fashion’s fray for good two years ago, she declared: “It is the first time I feel like I don’t have a rope around my neck.” Today it was again Sébastien Meunier’s head in the noose. Following a vexingly drawn-out delay—by the end of which the room had fallen so numbly silent that you could hear squabs mewling above the rafters—he touched on the tropes of the founder with fair efficiency.
Acting as centerpiece for many of his looks were broad, black, and be-zipped obi belts that came in various grades of jaunty tilt and unzipperedness. As much decorative frontispieces as pant stabilizers, they narrowed at the back. Around these—and some skinny equivalents—were cinched the moody fabric flesh of Meunier’s Demeulemeester tribute. Soft-shouldered jackets and coats most often in black, or narrowing black-and-white stripes, were as rich with extraneous fold and flap on the body as they were with swell and billow at the arm. A bronze silk topcoat was straitjacketed with strapping and buttons. South of the obi belts, full trousers moved with soft, unreadable smokiness or were fitted, leather and ruching in sympathy with the melodramatic, long-armed black leather gloves—sometimes of mismatched length—worn with every look.
Meunier is not Demeulemeester, yet to fulfill his brief must be Demeulemeester-ish. It is an unenviable position. But you could absolutely argue that this cover version is too dutiful an homage and bears insufficient imprint of his own authorship. The founder’s rejected rope fits Meunier snugly enough. Yet the flatness of the atmosphere today—and the emptiness of the benches—suggests that, shorn of its star turn, the appeal of this same old song is waning.