A poetry reference for a label whose spirit leans so poetic runs the risk of being too, you know, literal. But William Blake was not a one-dimensional bard; he was an enlightened artist who happened to be an ongoing inspiration for Ann Demeulemeester – so much so that Sébastien Meunier’s first collection at her side several years ago drew from the British Romantic.
Today, in adopting Blake’s work for himself, the designer composed a collection that was sensitively expressed from start to finish. Having been most moved by Songs of Innocence and of Experience, written and illustrated between 1789 and 1794, he featured the book’s faded colour cover on a velvet-ribboned tank worn with an undone blouse and buttoned breeches in painterly hues.
The book’s exploration of the soul’s contrary states ostensibly motivated Meunier’s juxtaposition of softly historical silhouettes with a moody, masculine edge. For every waist delicately defined with an extra-long strand of strass, he augmented cuffs outward like architectural forms.
And while the guys’ looks were prone to a suspended state of undress, the women were never as exposed, which felt deliberate in one sense and like a non-event in another. To be sure, those who gravitate toward Demeulemeester almost certainly arrive with fluid notions of gender. As for enticing everyone else, the costume aspects that continue to make these clothes so suited to musicians and their ilk read as a romantic antidote to the trend against anything profound.
“It’s interesting to see how beautiful and sensible you can be, but then go to the darkness,” Meunier said, referring to the talented, tormented musician Syd Barrett, whose song “Golden Hair” accompanied the show like a sung poem. With this thought, he also distilled down his design to an ever-shifting balancing act between heart and head.
The crowd clearly felt something, rewarding his effort with such applause to summon up the words of Blake: To see heaven in these wild flowers.
This article first appeared in Vogue.com.