When Ann Demeulemeester stepped down from the role at her namesake brand in 2013, I wondered – how difficult will it be for any successor to continue her legacy, yet not fall into biting the archives? Sébastien Meunier had his ups and falls since he became the creative director at Demeulemeester. But his men’s autumn-winter 2017 is unconditionally the best to date.
Perhaps it’s the season, where he found the balance between his personal creative language and Ann’s style codes. It was one of the most sensual and beautiful collections I have ever seen for men – pure poesy, where everything flows and works together, from the textures to the colours. From delicate white shirting with lace to all-black equivalents, Meunier re-invented, consciously or not, the way we perceive a poet: eccentric, romantic, on the boundary between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Even the fur-lined parka jackets would dress a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe or William Blake. Eventually, it was Ann who said those words about both, poets and her favourite colour: “Black is not sad. Bright colors are what depresses me. They’re so… empty. Black is poetic. How do you imagine a poet? In a bright yellow jacket? Probably not.”
In her work, Demeulemeester often used feathers and plume, whether in jewellery or vest-making. Meunier did nonchalant, big feather shawls and breath-taking hats, which looked so elegantly decadent that I’m just… speechless.
In the heart of Rome, the Italian house of Valentino presented its haute couture collection which just showed us, that this specific season is all about eponymous splendour. In 1960, Valentino Garavani founded his brand in the eternal city – now, its a label which can be called a fashion empire. But what’s most interesting in this collection is the fact that the creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, had it presented in Valentino’s hometown and not as usual, in Paris. The venue of the fashion show was bulit on Piazza Mignanelli – the place where Valentino himself staged his shows in the past.
The colour of black is ususally misunderstood. But in reality, black is poetic, elusive and mysterious. These words precisely describe this collection for AW15. “Rome is just a little bit noir, a little sinister” said Pierpaolo before the show, giving us the idea behind the city and the collection’s connection. Leather flowers trellised a sheer tulle cape, while minuscule beads added character to a gladiator minidress. And the repeating arch motif on a floor-sweeping, wool and velvet cape? A treasure. This is one of these collections you are going to remember for a long time.
Black, black and a bit of red. That’s what Sébastien Meunier did for Ann Demeulemeester this fall. So, in other words, slightly boring. Or even, very boring. I feel that after Ann left the house, the label gets monotonous with Meunier each season. It’s basially all about bringing back the black clothes from the archives and giving them something which is called “new life”. But is it really what Demeulemeester wanted after departuring? Having her archives being constantly “refreshed” in her Antwerp-based brand? There is a real lack of energy in these clothes for AW15 – they are not poetic as Ann used to make them. They are simply black! Oh. And white & red in few looks. The stripes are also from Ann’s archives, so don’t think they are the intention of Sébastien’s imagination. A loud yawn.
“Our customer wants black, so why not do an all-black collection?” Oh dear. It’s the most commercialised sentence I ever heard from anyone in the industry since I started writing. Alexander Wang, really? REALLY? Does this mean, that the label totally went for the masses and decided to be ruled by the customer? Creativity means, that you give an idea to people – this means, that your idea is accepted or not by the person buying, analysing or observing your work. But saying that if they want black, then lets give them black makes me want to puke. Well, the Alexander Wang X HM capsule was already a bad sign (lets not deceive ourselves – the logomania prints and all that polyester & neoprene stuff was dumb). But after this totally black collection (except few pairs of jeans and one white sweater) I lose any respect for Wang. Aside from those Frankenstein boots, everything is so retail-friendly. Every rich teen girl would die to look like Kendall Jenner in one of these black dresses… and, she is going to get it, ’cause Wang knows that the “customer’s always right”.