Ann Demeulemeester, the designer who created the namesake fashion label, is a member of the Antwerp Six, a fashion collective comprised of six graduates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp who established themselves in the 1980s. The avant garde designers include Dries van Noten, Walter van Beirendonck, Dirk van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee. Collectively and individually, they are influential in the fashion world and have paved the way for other Flemish designers, putting Belgium on the map for fashion. Each designer, of course, has their own distinct style independent from the others’ influences. En masse they show highly creative and artistic visions with a range of themes from playful to haunting. The latter is what Sebastien Meunier, current artistic director of the Ann Demeulemeester label, embraced in the spring/summer 2016 ready-to-wear collection.
The runway show embraced a dark sexuallity. Strong S&M motifs were paired with both sharp and fluid tailoring. Even though harnesses are increasingly becoming accepted as a trendy accessory, the streamlined choker-topped ones in the collection still seem veiled by taboo. Most of the looks included a sheer breast-baring mesh top, a version of several different variations of the choker-topped harness, and sky-high peep toe heels. Black and white comprised the main color story, although a zippy yellow and emerald made a few appearances. There was also a hint of a Black Swan homage throughout the collection, with onyx and chartreuse feathers embellishing dresses and black suited jackets. While many of the looks in the collection were perhaps too avant garde for the college student’s wardrobe, the one above embraces the edginess of the collection without being overtly risque.
Starting from the inside out, layer a white long sleeve mesh top under a black mesh top or just pick one color to go with. The black one shown above is $8 from Amazon.com. For modesty, a black or white camisole can always be added beneath see-through layers. Add a white waistcoat or vest as a contrast like this $33 option from Charlotte Russe. Before putting on a blazer, accessorize with a faux leather harness. This thin strapped, open-front version is on sale for $5 from Wet Seal. Open-front harnesses could be reversed to more closely resemble the Ann Demeulemeester style. Top off the previous layers with a streamlined blazer like this deep neckline one from Forever 21 for $33. Keep the bottom simple with a pair of tailored, white, ankle-grazing trousers. This pair is $15 from Forever 21. Slip on some peep toe boots or heels to finish the look. A pair with cutouts like the $50 from H&M.
Style hair and makeup streamlined and undistracting, since this look speaks for itself. Slick hair back away from the face, or tie it into a ponytail. Both a neutral eye or sleek winged eyeliner would complement the ensemble. The finished product is a combination of refined and risque that balances avant garde fashion with streetwear.
Sophie Fay Shaw is the High Fashion, College Wallet columnist. Email her at email@example.com