One of the famous Antwerp six, Ann Demuelemeester was born in December 29, 1959 in Waregem, Belgium. Never a dictator of the latest fashion trends in the fashion industry, yet Ann has been successful in creating magic on the runway with her avant-garde collections from time to time.
Initially, Ann had no interest in fashion when she attended art school for three years but she developed a taste for portraiture which later led to her becoming interested in fashion design. She studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1978 to 1981 in Antwerp to pursue a career in the field of fashion. Ann along with other students from her college like Dries van Noten, Marina Yee and Walter van Bereindonck went to London in 1986 to present their collection of deconstructive, untraditional clothing. The road to success was already paved for Demuelemeester as soon as she completed graduation from the Royal College of Arts in 1981. She won the Gouden Spool, an annual award reserved for the most promising new fashion designers within a year of her graduation. Over the next few years, Ann went on to work as a freelance designer and came up with her own clothing line in 1985 with the assistance of her husband, Patrick Robyn. Her clothing line was named BVBA 32.
An art gallery in Paris along with a makeshift runway displayed her first collection where somber models walked the runways in 1992. Her menswear line was debuted in 1996 since Ann believed that men and women go hand in hand in every walk of life. It was noticed that in 1994, her silhouettes became more streamlined and elongated using cutting edge technology and close attention to detail. Pieces from Ann’s clothing line soon gained a reputation of being distinctive and deconstructed with a sultry bleakness that reflected the destructive side of fashion. The designer’s creations are predominantly found in black and white drawing inspiration from punk, gothic and Japanese styles.
Despite Ann being approached by big fashion houses several times whose names Ann chooses to keep discreet, she has managed to stay on track with her own line BVBA 32 only because she has always felt that design and financial independence is something she can never give up on. Demuelemeester’s first shop opened in 1999 in Antwerp and today her collections are sold worldwide in more than 30 countries. Ann has worked in collaboration with artist Jim Dine and her primary source of inspiration comes from the androgynous singer Patti Smith. She also came up with a Jackson Pollock inspired clothing line. In 2000, Ann Demuelemeester was named an honorary citizen of her hometown Waregem. Her first independent men’s show was held in Paris in 2005 that enraptured the audience. She added a jewelry line to her repertoire in 2006 which was also quite successful.
The year 2008 witnessed the launch of Ann Demuelemeester’s Collection Blanche. Demuelemeester’s label generated revenue of 50 million dollars reportedly with freestanding stores in Tokyo, Antwerp and Hong Kong and her collection being sold at high end department stores like New York’s Barney’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, Joyce and Lane Crawford of Hong Kong and the Parisian Le Bon Marche.