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The Jil Sander brand has always had this dichotomy to it.
On the one side, there’s the familiar approach to tradition, craft, and heritage. On the other, there’s the understanding that these facets need to be modernized. And that’s the way Jil Sander’s creative directors, husband-and-wife team Luke and Lucie Meier, have worked at the German house since taking the creative reins in April 2017.
That cross-pollination could be seen in the duo’s inaugural menswear show at Paris’ Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. In true Jil Sander fashion, the setting was pure and refined — and so was the clothing.
There was sharply cut outerwear and suiting with elasticated trousers and zips for a younger feel in line with the brand’s new, more casually dressed clientele. Monochrome looks covered most of the show and matching two-pieces could be found in shirt-trouser, boiler suit-satchel, and trench coat-shirt combinations. One smooth calfskin lilac top and bottom combo, shown opposite Japanese wool tweed, stood out for its simplicity, which is no easy thing to pull off.
Youthful accessories such as bucket hats, utility fanny packs, and chunky sneakers came in structured leather for a luxurious makeover. Natural fabrics cashmere, cotton, silk, and wool dominated most of the looks. It worked. The audience wasn’t just observing a beautiful show, it was window shopping.
The second half featured garments turned inside-out, displaying construction detailing and the Jil Sander logo tag, which are normally hidden within. “A lot came from studying the lining first and then taking it apart,” explained former Supreme man Luke Meier. “We really care a lot about fabric and we do a lot of research about construction.”
Luke started as a studio assistant to Supreme founder James Jebbia in 1999 and later took on the role of head designer at the skate label after the departure of Noah founder Brendon Babenzien. He also co-founded street-luxe label OAMC, which he launched with Carhartt WIP alumnus Arnaud Faeh.
Lucie Meier, meanwhile, worked in senior roles at Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Dior, where she was the house’s head designer for a few seasons between Raf Simons’ departure and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s arrival.
“Tailoring was the main idea, and we thought about how to offer tailoring today and how we want to see it being worn by people,” Lucie told us.
Suits are indeed having a big resurgence this season. But how do you convince a younger generation whose dress sense has become so casualized by streetwear that suiting is à la mode again?
“It has to be cool and something that you can just throw on,” Lucie explains. “It can’t be restricted and it should be something you can live in a little.”
Unsurprisingly given their backgrounds, the Meiers speak the language of their new customers fluently. It’s why their directional revamp of Jil Sander’s codes is going so well. What they presented in Paris was functional design at its finest, evidence that contemporary fashion minimalism can go a long way.
Now, go behind the scenes of Dior’s knockout FW19 show in Paris.