ANTWERP — When final 12 months the Italian retail guru Claudio Antonioli bought the Ann Demeulemeester brand from Belgian businesswoman Anne Chappelle’s BVBA 32 for an undisclosed sum, it triggered some apprehension amongst hardcore followers.
Though Antonioli had carried the Ann Demeulemeester label in his Milan boutique for years, New Guards Group, the luxury streetwear holding he co-founded in 2015 with Davide De Giglio and Marcelo Burlon, was for a lot of the antithesis of the romantic, gothic bohemian, excessive style sensibilities of a model that was a cult favorite among the many style cognoscenti of the ‘90s and ‘00s however whose momentum had since waned.
As Antonioli devised plans for a revamp, the primary individual he needed to persuade was Demeulemeester herself, a member of the well-known “Antwerp Six,” who exited the business in 2013 however, not like contemporaries reminiscent of Helmut Lang, Jil Sander and Martin Margiela, retained the rights to her identify, which she licensed to Chapelle.
Antonioli, who exited New Guards Group in 2019 when the corporate was acquired by Farfetch for $675 million, was in the end profitable at successful over Demeulemeester, a lot in order that the designer has lately re-engaged with the model. No, Demeulemeester won’t return to designing garments, however she’s going to work with the model on particular tasks, reminiscent of creating the primary Ann Demeulemeester fragrance, a long-dormant concept she shelved years in the past.
“In the course of the years since I stepped away from the model, I had time to readjust my view of it,” Demeulemeester advised BoF. “I used to be in a position to have a look at it extra from the skin, and I realised that the model’s DNA is powerful sufficient for another person to hold it ahead.”
Since buying the label, Antonioli has been busy. He has dismissed the Antwerp design studio headed by the French designer Sebastien Meunier, who stepped in after Demeulemeester left, and moved it to Milan. He has tapped his community of Italian producers to raise the standard of the model’s choices, which suffered beneath Chapelle. And he has employed the heavyweight photographer-stylist duo Willy Vanderperre and Olivier Rizzo to go up inventive course.
The model is about to current its first runway present because the acquisition in Paris on Oct. 3. And whereas the matter of appointing a brand new head designer stays unresolved — the model is at present designed by a small staff — Antonioli has targeted on painstakingly transforming staples from the Ann Demeulemeester archive.
The reopening of Ann Demeulemeester’s Antwerp flagship this week is one other vital step in Antonioli’s plan. Whereas exterior the world’s main style capitals, the two-story boutique — at present the one Ann Demeulemeester retail outpost in Europe — is a robust image of the model’s origins and one thing of a pilgrimage website for diehard followers.
The Antwerp revamp will likely be adopted by new boutiques openings in London, Milan, New York, Tokyo and elsewhere in Asia. Antonioli has additionally revamped the model’s web site and brought a pointy have a look at its wholesale technique, lowering the variety of doorways the place the model sells from 170 to 56 to deal with high-value companions like Dover Avenue Market and Selfridges, and specializing in worth self-discipline, making Ann Demeulemeester a no-sale model. Going ahead, the label goals to generate 40 % of gross sales from direct-to-consumer channels.
A part of the settlement between Antonioli and Demeulemeester was that her husband and longtime right-hand Patrick Robyn and their son Victor Robyn, who has produced a lot of the model’s imagery over the previous decade, would stay concerned within the label. Patrick Robyn took the lead in updating the Antwerp retailer, which he redesigned prime to backside, refreshing the flagship’s unique idea of retailer as artist’s studio. He had each the ceiling and the ground painted and stained a deep shade of black and likewise designed utterly new show fixtures.
“I stored coming to the thought of luxurious, it appeared inevitable,” stated Robyn. “However luxurious doesn’t need to be marble and chrome. Luxurious is within the eye of the beholder.”
The model declined to reveal present income figures. In 2019, Chapelle’s BVBA 32, which on the time owned Ann Demeulemeester in addition to the Haider Ackermann label, generated revenues of €14.5 million ($17.2 million), in response to public data.
https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/luxurious/with-ann-demeulemeesters-involvement-brand-revamp-takes-shape | With Ann Demeulemeester’s Involvement, Revamp Takes Form | BoF Skilled, Information & Evaluation