16 March 2011

Ann's Army


Spring/Summer 2011


The lights come on, the music starts, and a run of sparkling white, fencing-inspired looks hit the catwalk.  The lights dim and the audience begin to clap uncertainly.  Suddenly the lights come back on, the music ramps up, and out storm models in replica looks imagined in full black, replacing cottons with leathers.  Welcome to a stronger, sharper, sleeker Ann Demeulemeester.

I will admit that the collection initially took me entirely off guard.  The romantic was gone, replaced by a sleek and strong modern man in pure white.  But then the black looks came in with an entirely different emotion and feeling, and suddenly it made sense.  There in the folds of black I saw the Ann I know and love.  Ann's man has grown up and adapted to face the world - a strength surfaced that had previously only bubbled underneath her romantic exteriors of poetic softness.  Ann loves fragility in men, but here she seemed to feel the need to protect that fragility.  The world can be a harsh place, however instead of rebelling and lashing out, Ann created a confident sense of both strength and romance combined.

I suppose this is one of those collections for which the images really do not do the clothing justice.  Indeed one could perhaps look at these and see only the strength with no romance.  However to handle the clothing in person is to appreciate the stunning array of textures and details that reveal themselves to the wearer and onlookers who take the time to come close.  From the silk and cotton blends, to the thin leathers, to the linen knits (not featured on the catwalk), it was very much about the sensuality and feel of the clothing.  Whilst this is unsurprising from Ann, whose clothes (indeed, like Yohji's) are very much about the feel, I found them interesting in terms of the slim and sharp silhouettes.  The visual impression was one of strength, however the execution, with its attention to textures and fabrics, was beautifully sensual and gentle.  What better way to face the world than with an armour that cocoons you softly?





I loved the look of these obi belts, especially wrapped around a long jacket and paired with the riding boots.  It had a beautiful sense of romance.







The Truth waistcoat/chest pieces were something I really enjoyed, even though they may not be the most practical, or indeed wearable, of accessories.  It reminded me at once of body armour and a strong feeling of safety.  Wrapped around and tightened against you, it is a sensation of snug comfort.  Styled as it was in the presentation I found that it provided a beautiful shape, and offset the symmetry of the outfits perfectly.  Indeed I would love to get my hands on one just to see how you could play around with it on an outfit, as well as the potential layering options.  These were actually my favourite looks from the collection.



The Fence blazer above is composed of a lightweight cotton and silk blend, featuring a subtle crisscross weave pattern.  I was amazed by how soft and light the blazer was, especially when worn (plus the fact that it fits true to size!).  My only caveat would be the length of the blazer, as it is slightly short and boxy in its fit - think more Junya than traditional Ann.  To me it felt almost quilt-like, which gave it a really interesting sensation when worn - certainly more comfortable than your average structured blazer.  Whilst it would no doubt look beautiful with a simple lightweight longsleeve, I can imagine it looking interesting against one of Ann's classic poet shirts, especially with the juxtaposition of lengths such a pairing would create.  The lapel can actually be worn either folded back or buttoned up fully, providing a nice versatility to the garment.



I loved the look of the Truth jacket in black, which features a slightly gathered back and arm hem to provide a more gently sculpted shape. I think it would benefit with shirt sleeves emerging from beneath them, just to provide a nice contrast and a more elongated silhouette against the arm.  That may just be my natural love of long sleeves speaking, but I think the length is called for.  I think this jacket could actually work really well paired with pieces from the latest Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, particularly the laced waistcoats.  I thought the styling with the slimmer trousers was interesting, because slim trousers is not always what one thinks of Ann doing.  However I thought the line was beautiful, especially against the back-lace Vitello boots.  Personally I would have loved to see the ponyskins back in action, or even the suede buckled hi top sneakers, but the sleek leather really was part of the look of the collection.


xxxx

4 comments:

  1. Lots of layers and more formal, it seems.

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  2. I LOVEEEEEEEEED this collection - the men's portion. Although some of the jackets reminded me of taekwondo outfits, the silhouettes were so refreshing. I'm really hoping that some of the Japanese/Korean men will be dressing with this type of look next winter. I would dieeeee.

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  3. I have an attraction to clothing as "armor" and a soft spot for fencing inspired clothing. I haven't yet seen Ann D in person, but I can imagine it is all about the details. I like how she uses asymmetry: the row of buttons from shoulder to neck on one side, the curved lapels which can be worn buttoned or not, a ruched back on the jackets...And she's always great, always timeless.

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