Motion and Gravity

Motion was a leitmotif throughout Demeulemeester's work. The challenge of gravity, a force that allows ap-

How Draw The Human Body Motion
Model wearing Demeulemeester ensemble. Demeulemeester liked to challenge gravity in her designs, creating garments that appeared to be in motion or were just barely held in check on the body. AFP/Getty Images. Reproduced by permission.

parel to appear to be in motion even when its wearer is standing still, was technically explored in ever new applications, season after season. One symbol of this investigation was the feathers that reappeared in each new collection in the form of necklaces or jewelry, chosen for their beauty and natural perfection.

We are accustomed to the fact that gravity causes everything to fall, so how does one mislead a law of nature? How does one dislodge the balance of human form into balance, and how does one cut an article of clothing so that it looks as though it is being blown open? How does one summarize the beauty of a T-shirt that just happens to glide off the shoulder? Questions of this nature served as starting points for collections in which the different movements of Demeulemeester's models repeatedly accentuated and revealed different parts of the wearer's body—shoulders, stomach, or hips.

Unforgettable pieces in this context included De-meulemeester's asymmetrically-cut trousers that revealed part of the hips. Whether or not these garments were held up with a subtle ribbon, they looked as though they were just on the verge of sliding to the floor. The movement was subtle yet introduced a hint of danger. Such techniques as drapery and asymmetrical cut as well as ribbons and belts provided the technical tools. When gravity could not be conquered, Demeulemeester made use of ribbons or belts—which had evolved into fetish elements in her collections—to hold the fabric against the wearer's body.

The designer felt a need to find different ways to develop an article of clothing without traditional pattern techniques. Demeulemeester's 1998 winter collection began with a piece of cloth into which she cut holes for her arms. Careful observation of what subsequently happened to the fabric led her to develop a number of wrapping techniques, which in turn produced new forms. In her winter collection for 1999, she pushed this approach even further by applying the wrapping techniques to sheepskin. The result was a most unexpected interpretation of the mouton-retourne.

The feeling of motion and nonchalance in De-meulemeester's work found its counterweight in her elegant jackets and pantsuits of the 1990s, which exuded a certain discipline and masculinity. Perfect in cut and shoulder line, here too, it was such details as an asymmetrically-buttoned blouse or the selection of a subtly hanging fabric, for example, that softened the severity of the whole. In her 1997 winter collection, both aspects came together in a jacket that closely hugged the body on one side with the help of a belt, but fell loosely on the other side.

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