Ann Demeulemeester has always been attracted to the extreme - as long it has a dark slant, that is. For Autumn/Winter 2011 she seemed to pick up on the punky, gothic and - you guessed it - resolutely dark style of her very many Japanese fans. She's a legendary Patti Smith fan, after all, so the haystack hair and almost-all-black attire of those Harajuku cybergoths is bound to be right up her street. It also makes a difference to trawling through nineteenth-century doomed romantics for inspiration, and the difference was that this seemed a far more forward-thinking and all-together inspiring offering.
That's not to say it strayed far from Demeulemeester's trademark style. The opening numbers, for instance, slashed through with zips, perforated with eyelets and criss-crossed with corset-lacing over every surface from high-necked jackets through wide-cuff gauntlets, were quintessential Demeulemeester. To untrained eyes, they may have seemed like a hardcore avant-garde statement, but her followers would have been more shocked if she sent out a few floaty little chiffon frocks than these zip-scarred garments. Her toying with goat-hair, however, was rather shocking - as only a head-to-toe jumpsuit and floor-length fur evening gown can be. In patchworks of red, orange and black, they resembled a Manga heroine come to life - or at least, her hair-do, taking over the models' entire ensembles in a Godzilla-style sartorial rampage. Somehow, Demeulemeester managed to craft something simultaneously beastly and beautiful out of them and they were the stand-out pieces of the entire show.
However, goat-fur jumpsuits do not a business make. That portion of Demeulemeester's collection was still well in supply: neat tailored jackets and skinny trousers, high wedge heels, a few of those decadent, Byronic details Demeulemeester loves (this time, bullet-casings in leather spouting raven's feathers). The colour? Black of course - the same reassuring black as Demeulemeester's bank balance.