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Ann Demeulemeester

This season's offering is a study in opposites. Grace vs. brawn. One-half fencing-inspired (white cotton jackets that button on the side or high to the neck, white pants, white boots -in other words, all white), and one-half BMX-inspired (as in, all-black). A white collection of clothes that cleaved close to the body signaled a change on the Ann Demeulemeester catwalk. Gone were the shadowy poetic layers, replaced by pieces so clinical and precise they wouldn't have looked out of place in a Viennese fencing academy or on the attendants of an upscale insane asylum (the white breast-plates also looked like deconstructed strait-jackets). Where there was volume, as in a silken parka or a jacquard coat, it was kept in check by a wide elasticated cummerbund that could probably work Spanx-like wonders on a wayward midriff, as well. The show seemed over in a flash, but while the audience was uncertainly applauding, it started up again, duplicated detail for detail in black, with the cotton of the first course often replaced by leather. "I wanted to see what would happen", said the Belgian designer of the switcheroo. Of course, white cotton and black leather are scarcely of the same family, but while you might expect the leather to have a dark, vaguely threatening cast, it was extraordinary how sinister the purest white could look as well. It was an intriguing experiment. The result was simply breath-taking. Ann Demeulemeester is one of my favorite designers and once again, I love this collection.