Ann Demeulemeester

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Ann Demeulemeester
Born (1959-12-29) December 29, 1959 (age 59)
Kortrijk, Belgium
Other namesAnn Verhelst
Alma materRoyal Academy of Fine Arts
Occupationfashion designer
Organization32 BVBA fashion house
Known formember of the Antwerp Six
Spouse(s)Patrick Robyn
ChildrenVictor Robyn
Parent(s)Albert Verhelst
Awards1982 Golden Spindle Award, Belgium

Ann Demeulemeester (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌɑn dəˈmøːləˌmeːstər]; born in 1959, Kortrijk, Belgium)[1] is a fashion designer whose eponymous label Ann Demeulemeester is mainly showcased at the annual Paris Fashion Week.[2] She is one of the Antwerp Six in the fashion industry.[2] Her label Ann Demeulemeester is still regarded as one of the most influential labels in fashion.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ann Demeulemeester, from her real name Ann Verhelst, was born in Waregem, a town in the Flemish province of Belgium in 1959, and later lived in the city of Bruges. Her father, a history professor, and her mother both currently live in Waregem. 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.[4] From this, Ann went on to study fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp from 1978 to 1981.[2] 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.[2] This group of avant-garde designers are known for their deconstructivist styles of creating untraditional clothing lines.[2] Other notables from the group include Dries van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck.[2]


Early beginnings[edit]

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. Ann began working as a freelance designer for a few years.

Ann Demeulemeester[edit]

In 1985, Demeulemeester released her own line, Ann Demeulemeester, with husband Patrick Robyn.[2][5] 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.

In 1994, her silhouette became more elongated and streamlined. With a close attention to detail and use of cutting-edge techniques and materials, Ann Demeulemeester consistently produces pieces that are distinctive and instantly recognizable. She began by drawing influence from gothic, punk, and Japanese styles while still remaining true to her own ideas. Though Demeulemeester works with a very specific aesthetic, she continuously strives to push conventions and produce fresh looks for each season. Her pieces, which at times have been described as "funereal", have subtle hints of emotion and emphasis on sexuality.

"I could do it the easy way, give the same pieces, but if I don't try new things then I'm not pushing myself, and I feel bad. I feel lazy." [6]

Despite having being approached by major fashion houses (names of which she refuses to divulge), Ann Demeulemeester emphasizes both design and financial independence, and chooses to remain with her own line. She opened her own shop in Antwerp in 1999.[2] Her collections are now sold in over 30 countries worldwide.[7]

Ann Demeulemeester worked with the artist Jim Dine, and draws much of her inspiration from the androgynous singer, Patti Smith.[8] She worked on a clothing line inspired by Jackson Pollock.[2] In June 2013, 32 BVBA fashion house split the Demeulemeester and Ackermann labels into two independent companies.[2] The Demeulemeester label is reported to have $50 million in revenues.[2] 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."[2]

In November 2013, Ann Demeulemeester announced she was leaving her eponymous fashion house.[2] 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.[9] After Ann's departure in 2013, French designer Sébastien Meunier was named the artistic director of the maison;[10] he had previously designed for the men's collections since 2010.

Ann Demeulemeester Serax[edit]

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.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Demeulemeester is married to photographer Patrick Robyn[2] with whom she has a son, Victor. The couple live in Antwerp, in the only house in Belgium designed by Le Corbusier.[2]


  • 1982 Golden Spindle Award, Belgium

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Socha, Miles (21 November 2013). "Ann Demeulemeester Exits Fashion". WWD. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Fresh Heir: Interview with Ann Demeulemeester's new creative director Sebastien Meunier - The D'Vine". The D'Vine. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  4. ^ Susannah Frankel (2002). "Ann Demeulemeester" (PDF). Dazed & Confused. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-31.
  5. ^ "BIOGRAPHY | Ann Demeulemeester". Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  6. ^ Katherine Betts (April 1997). "Ann of Antwerp" (PDF). Vogue USA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-31.
  7. ^ Kevin Davies (2003). "Ann Demeulemeester" (PDF). Fashion Now. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-31.
  8. ^ Holston, Fred. "Take a Drag or Two". Patti Smith + Ann Demeulemeester. Archived from the original on 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
  9. ^ "Ann Demeulemeester to leave eponymous fashion house". Telegraph. November 2013.
  10. ^ "BIOGRAPHY | Ann Demeulemeester". Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  11. ^ Lou Stoppard (August 21, 2019), Ann Demeulemeester Doesn’t Miss Fashion at All. She Has Other Plans. New York Times.

External links[edit]