December 29, 1959
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Fine Arts|
Ann Demeulemeester (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌɑn dəˈmøːləˌmeːstər]; born December 29, 1959) is a Belgian fashion designer whose eponymous label, Ann Demeulemeester, is mainly showcased at the annual Paris Fashion Week. She is one of the Antwerp Six in the fashion industry. Her label is regarded as one of the most influential labels in fashion.
Ann Demeulemeester was born in Kortrijk in 1959 to Albert and Monique Verhelst-Pappijn, and later lived in the city of Bruges. Initially, Demeulemeester showed no interest in fashion. She attended art school for three years, where she discovered her fascination with people and portraiture, which led her to begin thinking about clothing design. From this, Ann went on to study fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp from 1978 to 1981. In 1986, Demeulemeester, along with her fellow students from the Antwerp Royal Academy, went to London to showcase their collections. As a result of this, she is often referred to as a member of the 'Antwerp Six', the radical and distinctive Belgian designers of the 1980s. This group of avant-garde designers are known for their deconstructivist styles of creating untraditional clothing lines. Other notables from the group include Dries van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck.
After graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1981, Demeulemeester found success almost immediately. A year after her graduation, she won the Gouden Spoel, an annually awarded prize to the year's most promising fashion designer. Demeulemeester began working as a freelance designer for a few years.
In 1985, Demeulemeester released her own line, Ann Demeulemeester, with husband Patrick Robyn. Her first collection was shown in a Parisian art gallery with a makeshift runway and somber models in 1992. In 1996, she debuted her own menswear line.
Despite having being approached by major fashion houses (names of which she refuses to divulge), Demeulemeester emphasizes both design and financial independence, and chooses to remain with her own line. She opened her own shop in Antwerp in 1999. Her collections are now sold in over 30 countries worldwide.
In June 2013, 32 BVBA fashion house split the Ann Demeulemeester and Ackermann labels into two independent companies. The Ann Demeulemeester label is reported to have $50 million in revenues. The Demeulemeester label "operates freestanding stores in Antwerp, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and wholesales to an array of international retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York in America, L’Eclaireur and Le Bon Marché in Paris and Lane Crawford and Joyce in Hong Kong."
In November 2013, Demeulemeester announced she was leaving her eponymous fashion house. The exit letter also explained that the brand will show its autumn/winter 2014 men's and women's collection together at February's Paris Fashion Week. After Ann's departure in 2013, French designer Sébastien Meunier was named the artistic director of the maison; he had previously designed for the men's collections since 2010.
Ann Demeulemeester Serax
After leaving fashion, Demeulemeester attended porcelain master classes in England and France. In 2019, she launched Ann Demeulemeester Serax, a collection of porcelain dinner services, silverware, glasses and larger housewares.
- 1982 Golden Spindle Award, Belgium
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