Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester shot to prominence in the mid 1980s as part of a group of visionary Royal Academy of Fine Arts graduates, whose cutting-edge showcase at London Fashion Week in 1986 earned them instant international acclaim as the “Antwerp Six.”
Demeulemeester launched her eponymous label in 1985 in collaboration with her husband, the photographer Patrick Robyn. She held her first catwalk show in Paris in 1991 and, in 1996, following the debut of her menswear line, became one of the first designers to showcase both men's and women’s collections in one presentation.
Over time, she managed to build a successful business around her gothic, bohemian-inspired collections. But in November 2013, Demeulemeester announced that she would leave her namesake label. “A new time is coming both for my personal life and the brand Ann Demeulemeester. I feel it’s time to separate our paths. Ann Demeulemeester is an adult brand now with its own identity and legacy that is able to continue growing without me,” wrote the designer in a handwritten letter that was distributed via email.
What Demeulmeester will do next and whether her cult label will thrive without her remains to be seen. Managed through bvba 32, the Ann Demuelemeester operates out of Antwerp and operates three standalone stores in Antwerp, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Anne Chapelle, who has been managing director of Ann Demeulemeester since 1994, owns what is thought to be a significant stake in the company.