by Alex Fury .

PARIS FASHION WEEK: Ann Demeulemeester

Ann Demeulemeester's opening outfits were a revelation - two pleated and gathered short dresses like brief Greek chitons in white silk-chiffon. Standard fare for a Spring womenswear collection you may well think, but from the Queen of androgyny who has previously dressed her girls (and boys) as contemporary interpretations of Patti Smith, such femininity is an unusual statement. Equally unusual were the heavy bead embroideries in jet and diamante, subtley patterned jacquard and a later section of more soft gathering in saffron, tumeric and salmon chiffons. Showing in a Parisian convent, perhaps we can relate these figured fabrics and ornate embroideries to ecclesiastical garb, likewise those colour-saturated gathers in the hues of Buddhist monks'robes. Of course, fans of Demeulemeester's louche suiting were not disappointed, but this time it seemed to have loosened up even more, with tie-ribbon belts softly cinching the back. Her menswear, shown alongside the womens', was especially strong: jacquard knit vests and high-knotted velvet tie like a Victorian country curate, or slick satin suiting again reflecting a new appreciation of the more precious and ornate. Demeulemeester felt no need to hide the richness of this decoration (although it was hardly bling), and while this stood out in a resolutely understated season, this was in the best possible way.

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