The designer's Fall/Winter 2023 collection for Ann Demeulemeester embodies the enigmatic, subverting both gender and form

With any house’s passing-down of power, debuting creative directors are sure to attempt to embody their predecessors, as proof they are worthy of the legacy they inherited. Ludovic de Saint Sernin, however, doesn’t just embody the elegance of Ann Demeulemeester—he exudes it.

The designer’s first collection carries the dark sophistication of the house’s namesake, adopting the gender fluidity emblematic of her work and rendering it in ultramodern form. Transparent, rippling bodysuits are paired with shapely formalwear, and gloved sleeves and knotted, leather dresses twist around their wearers. Toplessness—a signature of de Saint Sernin—was employed at every possible turn, made modest by thin feathers and loosely-fitted outerwear; even dresses were built to mimic something shirtless, via deep and wide necklines and sheer fabrics.

“Sensuality, silhouette, ambiguity, wildness pace the sentences Ludovic de Saint Sernin is writing,” reads the label’s press release. That enigmatic ethos isn’t limited to the designer’s affinity for subverting gendered fashion: Models’ nails become rings, their heels could function as weaponry as easily as footwear, and knits appear to drip into form-fitting silhouettes like liquid.

De Saint Sernin’s debut is daring and disciplined, teasing at the designer’s potential to take Ann Demeulemeester to new heights, without sacrificing the tenets upon which it was founded. The release continues: “It’s an intro, a preamble, and as such, to be continued.”

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