Wednesday, April 23rd
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“Sometimes I really wonder why I’m doing this. But then a while ago somebody said to me: ‘the day that the brand Ann Demeulemeester stops existing, we’ll really lose something!’ Then all of a sudden I remembered."
Ann Demeulemeester, one of the infamous “Antwerp Six”, is known as a master tailor with her visually simple lines that hide complex and masterful detailing. Born and raised in Flanders, Belgium, Demeulemeester was a free spirit with a passion for art. In 1978, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, where she rebelled against the classic looks of Coco Chanel. Instead she was inspired by the up and coming Punk music genre and singer Patti Smith. In 1981 after graduating, Demeulemeester, along with five of her classmates rented a truck and drove to London to find work. In no time, she was ready to return home to Antwerp, where she purchased the 1926 Le Corbusier house; renovating it to add a couple ateliers, production rooms and a packing area.
By 1985, Ann Demeulemeester, along with her husband Patrick Robyn, founded their company, BVBA “32”. A couple years later, in 1987, she successfully launched her first fall/winter womenswear collection and the next year she expanded her label and introduced a shoe and accessory line. In 1992, Demeulemeester presented her first runway show at Paris Fashion Week where critics found her clothes and spirit intriguingly defiant. In 1996 she successfully launched both a menswear and home collection. Three years later, in 1999, she opened her premiere store in Antwerp and currently operates stores in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Continuing expansions, in 2006, she unveiled a handcrafted jewelry collection. And a couple years later, in 2008, Demeulemeester established ‘Collection Blanche’, a re-launch of successful pieces from her archives.
Ann Demeulemeester was awarded the ‘Golden Spindle Award’ (1982) and the ‘Culture Award 96’ (1996). The five other members of the ‘Antwerp Six’, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marina Yee, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs and Dirk Van Saene, along with Ann Demeulemeester put Belgium on the fashion map. Demeulemeester considers Patti Smith, Madonna, Trent Reznor and Courtney Love as some of her most loyal celebrity clients.