If you know one thing about Ann Demeulemeester, it's that she's the undisputed queen of fashion's dark side - a Belgian goth at heart, with an exhaustive Patti Smith back-catalogue to boot. Indeed, it's often interesting and illuminating to compare the respective outputs of Demeulemeester and the latter punk poet - friend, muse and collaborator Smith is. This season, the poetry came in Demeulemeester's new sensuality, with sinuous fishtail skirts fluttering and dragging after models, fluid oversized tailoring, soft layering and a repeat-print of ravens' wings flocking across white silk and cotton-drill. The punk came with the zips, not only shredding their way through garments, but wrapped, draped and swagged as pure decoration. Multiple metal teeth formed abstract fringes across the front of neat jackets, or created harnesses that wound across the torso, cascading from leather collars and looping into wide cummerbunds - which were themselves scarred with zippers. Get the idea? Sometimes it looked fabulous, as in the short Perfecto with a metallic shredded front composed of delicate zips, or the wool coat bisected at hip with a single silver incision. At other times, the whole exercise seemed overwrought - models had their faces bound with zips, glaring blankly through open teeth as they dragged otherwise elegant skirts like ghoulish shrouds. Couple the macabre touches with the endless monochrome, and surely there was a touch too much angst even for Demeulemeester, and certainly for what set out to be a spring/summer collection. That seasonal variation was only nodded to in a slight lightening of fabric weight - wool crepe instead of melton, washed kidskin instead of firm leather. More's the pity, as the schlocky horror show shenanigans all but obscured a glut of great tailoring in said lighter-weight fabrics, not least the knock-out slouchy blazers that opened, and the lean layers of cut-away waistcoats. No doubt this will all please the cultish coterie of Demeulemeester devotees, for whom black is always the new black. But this grim garb won't win her any new fans.
This season, the poetry came in Demeulemeester's new sensuality.