Ann Demeulemeester Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

Ann Demeulemeester Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

Maybe it seems hissy to harp on about punctuality. A tune about “fashion world problems” merits the world’s smallest violin. Yet the team at Ann Demeulemeester is so consistently late—at both menswear and womenswear—that the suspicion that they cultivate extravagant lateness as try-hard affectation becomes more compelling every super-late show. This show didn’t even open its doors until 15 minutes after the advertised start time. After 30 minutes or so, the photographers shushed as if to cosmically order some of Sébastien Meunier’s clothes on to the runway. The pregnant, unamused, and clothesless silence hung in the air for a minute or so. But of course, they weren’t ready backstage. I had a sportsman’s bet with someone that the earliest possible starting time would be 42 minutes late. By then the photographers were still whistling in vain.

Were the clothes that started floating forth four minutes later worth the wait? Sure, they were fine. This was Demeulemeester coded meditations on controlled chaos. There was a long sequence of monochromatic and disassembled tailoring, with jackets and frock-coats that twisted into dresses and half-cut shirts. Straps flapped and feathers hung on wide-strung necklaces or collars. This was a party-at-the-back collection: many of the plucked-asunder jumbles of bib, body, and collar were cut open at the back to meet at the top of the spine. Other loosely cut, gently frayed white smocks were worn wide and low at the back, as if half-pulled down by an 18th­-century bosun preparing to flog some errant cabin boy. Similarly the round-toed oil leather or suede work boots were cut open to reveal the heel.

A suite of red-on-black then purple-on-black striping interjected to break the monotony of monochrome with silky variations on the ongoing aesthetic. Sometimes it looked as if these outfits—and their wearers—had started the day in a symmetric little Le Smoking, but fallen into a laundry machine just before it whirred into final cycle. But careful styling kept the bedlam controlled. Two of the models had “True Black” written on their chests, while on another the same was written on her opaque shirt. There was no time afterwards to find out why.

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