Ann Demeulemeester shares the stories behind the looks in her retrospective at Pitti Uomo


His involvement has been the subject of much speculation. “I don’t design the clothes anymore, I don’t work with them every day,” Demeulemeester clarified. “[Like] children, we must let them go and we must leave them free to find their way. I am there, I am not there. In the end, Demeulemeester is on board, working on selected special projects that appeal to him, such as the redesign of the Antwerp store, a possible perfume launch and this exhibition. “There is a mutual respect between Antonioli and me… he knows the DNA of the brand very well, and he wanted to invest and work on the future of this brand. I could feel he had sincere intentions and decided to support this new start as I was happy there was a new future for the brand. I knew I couldn’t do it myself or start over again – and I don’t want to design pants and jackets anymore because I have to keep evolving.

Demeulemeester is one of the two creative members of the Antwerp Six. Graduates of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, they caused a sensation when they brought their creations to London in a van in 1986. Their individualistic, sometimes esoteric creations earned them the label of deconstructivists. Goth was another description attributed to Demeulemeester. Both are terms she rejects. “I never understood that [designation] so much the better, because I don’t deconstruct, I build, but I don’t build in the classic way,” the designer said during a call. “The word construct is associated with something rigid, which is not always the case. You can also build something fluid. By deconstructing, maybe they mean it’s not that rigid, straight thing anymore; it became more nonchalant or more lively or more lively, something like that.

Pragmatism and poetry come together in Demeulemeester’s creations. “The way I worked, each collection was like a step in a long evolution,” she explained. “I’m sure some collections were better, others maybe less to my liking, but it was an experience and each collection had its purpose and experience. I’m sure my best collections wouldn’t have existed if the previous ones hadn’t been there.

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