When Sébastien Meunier took over as creative director of Ann Demeulemeester last season, he was being handed a poisoned chalice. As these things go, it probably seemed like an easy gig—the look that Ann herself established is so identifiable and distinctive, surely all that would be required is a seasonal re-scrambling of the essential elements: some deconstructed tailoring here, a bit of smudgy layering there. Black and white. Sensual textures. Some diaphanous wafting. Presto! Collection à la Ann. The trouble—the poison, as it were—is that Meunier is far from the only designer who has figured out the Demeulemeester codes: They’re not exactly a secret. Indeed, they’ve infiltrated the look and attitude of fashion far and wide. And so a lazy approach at Demeulemeester yields results like the ones on the brand’s catwalk today, a gloomy procession of models wearing what looked like better-than-average Demeulemeester knockoffs. Some nice pieces? Yes, here and there—the embroidered sheaths and maxi dresses had presence, for instance, and there was appealing outerwear, such as an ivory and black motorcycle jacket and a crinkly sheer white lab coat. The impact of the strong items was dulled, however, by dumb ones such as the long piece of lavender chiffon impersonating a top, or a dress, or a one-shoulder apron. Or something. The whole effort here felt rather “or something.” It seemed like Meunier’s heart wasn’t really in it, and he was relying on the established brand vocabulary and the signature Demeulemeester attitude to sell the collection. He should try harder next time.