Ann Demeulemeester (born in 1954), fashion designer
Ann Demeulemeester was born in Kortrijk in 1954. The brown-haired girl showed a fascination for the fashion world at a very early age, and studied to be a fashion designer at the famous Royal Academy in Antwerp. Her later successes on the catwalks of Paris, London and Milan have only served to further enhance the already considerable reputation of that establishment. Demeulemeester graduated in the class of 1980 (together with others including Walter Van Beirendonck and Dries Van Noten) that put Belgium on the international fashion map.
A year after obtaining her designer's degree, Ann Demeulemeester won the Gouden Spoel, a prize awarded each year to the most promising young fashion designer. She made her debut on the international scene in 1986, with a show in London, together with the other five members of the so-called "Antwerp Six". Five years later, her silhouettes were also gracing the Paris catwalks. The girl from West Flanders now controls a giant fashion empire: her company "BVBA 32", which she founded in 1987, recorded turnover of more than 9 million euro 12 years later. Demeulemeester's clothes are sold in 200 shops all over the world. The designer also has a powerful presence in America (the USA represent 35% of her turnover) which, experience has shown, is not always self-evident for a European.
Ann Demeulemeester is very conscious of the need for total control over every aspect of her business. Not only the internal consistency of a collection is important to her, but also the image of the company, which "depends on thousands of factors". Her own shop, which was according to Demeulemeester “the only way to create my own world", was only to be expected. The designer was able to acquire an impressive nineteenth century building in Antwerp, that was previously a maritime college and laboratory for the Ministry of Agriculture.
Demeulemeester’s silhouettes are typified by contrasts: smooth and finely-worked leather are frequently contrasted with heavy woollen parts. The designer also likes combining male and female shapes in a single outfit. According to a Time Magazine journalist, her clothes exude "real authenticity". Demeulemeester remains modest: "I like simple silhouettes. I wrap women in the same way as I would wrap a table". Her range include ready-to-wear for men and women, shoes and accessories.