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Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s Ann Demeulemeester debut was bookended by identical looks, the first in black and the last in white. They featured a feather bandeau sculpted from leather—feathers being a treasured Demeulemeester motif—and a bias-cut maxi skirt whose hems swirled around the model’s feet as she stalked down the runway in knee-high stiletto boots. “It’s my way of saying that after this first step I’ll be spreading my wings and then be able to express myself,” he said of the double-up.

For season one, though, De Saint Sernin set out to pay tribute to the designer whose house he inherited. He said he poured over Rizzoli’s 2014 book of Demeulemeester’s collections, and requested 80-some looks from the house archives to personally try on. Familiarizing himself with her output was the right instinct. De Saint Sernin has carved a niche for himself with sex-positive crystal chainmail tanks and leather micro shorts for all genders, but Demeulemeester’s fans are fiercely loyal, and not likely to be easily won over by the new kid on the block—especially perhaps if that new kid isn’t a woman.

It’s worth noting, though, that de Saint Sernin has the house founder’s blessing. Demeulemeester is friends with the label’s new owner Claudio Antonioli, and she and de Saint Sernin met up when he got the gig. “She gave me the best advice, which was ‘work hard and do the best you can do.’”

The best of what we saw on tonight's runway were the men’s suits, worn in signature Demeulemeester style with undone white button-downs, their cuffs extending a few inches past the jackets. Also strong: the marvels that are those bias-cut silk skirts. Most were in silk and paired with shearling shrugs and capelets, but de Saint Sernin cut one in chiffon, so all of the tucks and darts that allow them to drape the way they do would be apparent. In place of shirts, the models’ arms were crossed over their bare breasts, “almost like dove,” he said.

It was a tender gesture, but he could have pushed himself further. What does his version of Demeulemeester’s tank top look like? And what about tailored jackets and coats? It’s a fall season, remember. And given that de Saint Sernin is such a big proponent of fluidity, the female models could’ve used a low-heeled boot like the men wore—and vice versa. That said, his Demeulemeester debut proves de Saint Sernin has range. The curious and the committed will be back next season to see which way he spreads his wings.