Given that she rarely gives interviews, even die-hard fashion lovers would be hard-pressed to come up with 10 things they DID know about Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester. With that in mind and in honor of her birthday today, we dug up 10 little known facts about this envelope-pushing designer.
- Like fellow Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, Demeulemeester lives out of the spotlight with her husband, photographer Patrick Robyn, and her son, Victor. They reside in the only Le Corbusier house in Belgium, which has been described as “a grey cubic structure of concrete that has seemingly been jammed into the end of a row of traditional Dutch houses just outside the city centre.”
- Aside from a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, which she wears for gardening, the designer only wears her own designs. “What I like to wear, I do myself,” she has said. “I don’t know how that sounds, but it’s the truth.”
- A number of musicians are fans of Demeulemeester’s work; one of them, Jamie Del Moon, walked for the designer in her Spring 1998 show. He has since walked in a number of the brand’s shows and has said that their first encounter back in the late 90s marked “the beginning of a long and mutually inspiring relationship that continues to this day.”
- Growing up, Demeulemeester had no interest in fashion. It wasn’t until she went to art school that she began to explore the possibility of a career as a fashion designer. “Drawing people, I naturally thought ‘what are they wearing?’ and then thought maybe I should go to school and be a fashion designer. But then, I was not interested in fashion, I never was. I didn’t buy lots of magazines, I didn’t know anything about fashion, I was just struck by what people were wearing and why,” she explained.
- In a shocking move, the designer announced at the end of 2013 that she was stepping down from her namesake brand. The announcement came via a handwritten letter sent by email to news outlets. In the letter she wrote, “I always followed my own path. A new time is coming both for my personal life and the brand ‘Ann Demeulemeester.’ I feel it’s time to separate our paths.”
- Demeulemeester is part of the Antwerp Six, a group of influential Belgian designers trained at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early 80s. The group also includes Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee. Together they are credited with putting Antwerp on the map in the fashion space.
- There’s a photograph of Leonard Cohen in the designer’s Antwerp store.
- Demeulemeester does not procrastinate. “I can’t bear the stress of not being ready for something,” she has said. In keeping with that, while most designers scramble until the last minute, her collections have always been ready weeks in advance.
- Given her brand’s avant–garde aesthetic, it’s fitting that the second Ann Demeulemeester boutique was opened in Tokyo. The store has a black painted ceiling and all the furniture pieces were conceived by the designer and her husband.
- While she later separated her men’s and women’s collections, for a decade Demeulemeester showed the two together. “Initially everyone thought it was crazy to have men and women parade together. But men and women live together and share the same things, why shouldn’t they do it on the catwalk as well?” she explained.
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