Good fashion exists, and there are good people out there willing to support it. Take Anne Chapelle. She’s the Belgian investor behind designers like Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann, electing to support them simply because she believes in their work. In a recent profile by Suzy Menkes in The New York Times, Ms. Chapelle breaks down her emotional journey with Ackermann, who she started working with five years ago after receiving Demeulemeester’s blessing.
“The first season was traumatic — very difficult — he was really a wild child and there was no structure,” she explained to NYT “Now he has become more mature. He learned to listen. Then you can help and guide him.” Given the glowing reviews this weekend of Ackermann’s fall collection, it’s clear that with a little help and a lot of love, any designer can eventually find their way back home.
Her financial support and guidance has made Ms. Chapelle a modern-day fashion patron, grooming new designers like the aforementioned Ackermann and helping designers like Josephus Thimister get their groove back. But don’t let the façade distract you from the fact that above all, she’s an Antwerp businesswoman on a mission, who says things like: “I may be an angel — but I have a devil’s side. The angel to designers and the devil to business,” and “We need more integrity — to love the hand of the creator who is not a machine. In big houses it is more difficult. The designers are squeezed like lemons. You have to hug them — not squeeze them.” Amen.