Hints of Boldness. Jil Sander AW21

This was a classic Jil Sander collection by the Luke and Lucie Meiers. Even too predictable. The life-and-work partners’ collection proposed clothes as tools for giving a purpose to people’s step in the wake of the pandemic. “It’s a time of change for everybody. To be able to achieve change you need to feel empowered to do so. The way you dress changes the way you feel about yourself,” said Lucie. Luke added: “You want people to feel better, to feel good, strong, powerful; that this is our future. This is our medium to do so.” Within the purist frames of their expression, they conveyed that message in hints of boldness, from the decisive sculpting of coats and skirts to hand-spun dresses with fringing cascading from the bias, and lingerie dresses with glamorous lashings of lace (very Old Céline). Big, ornate crystals made princely appearances. Still, it’s the slightly ‘wrong’ elements that make their Jil Sander offering interesting – think operatic gloves in pastel colours or the top-slash-necklace made of strings of pearls that opened the look-book. The designers have proven they can master a wardrobe that quietly but solidly evolves around the idea of ‘soft minimalism’ every season. I kind of wish they went a bit further and did something more surprising in the near future – maybe the brand’s new owner, Only the Brave’s Renzo Rosso, will let them champion that riskier side?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Familial Affection. Jil Sander AW21

Lucie and Luke Meiers‘ soft minimalism also applies to their menswear collections at Jil Sander. This time, however, the designers seem to be a bit more serious than usual. Between their enveloping wool coats, elongated tailoring, roomy knitwear, fluid overshirts and comforting knitted collars, a more abstract interpretation of our wardrobe mindset than mere ‘comfort-wear’ took shape. Clinical wellies in dusty tonal colors evoked those worn with quarantine suits in science fiction and leather sashes easily conjured visions of spaceship uniforms. Most expressive of the feeling were woven metal necklaces and breastplates, and primitive pendants that spelled out “Mother.” References aside, the pieces spelled out the emotions of solitude and loss of familial contact the designers perceived over the time. “The letter forms are very simple. It’s the feeling he could have just found the metal and made it himself. But it’s very close on his body,” Lucie said. Sewn onto coats and knitwear were panels of frayed canvas printed with photographic portraits of flamboyant young female art students at the Bauhaus shot by Florence Henri in the 1920s. Worn by the un-eccentric young men that made up the cast, the effect wasn’t camp but very human; the male idea, perhaps, of missing a formidable female family member or friend. “It’s a show of familial affection,” Luke noted. The Meiers’ earnest design practice can feel stark or cold, but between its muted colors and themes of loneliness and longing there was an expressed emotional core to this collection that gave it warmth. “There’s a certain personal approach here. I try most of the things on, and I wear most of the pieces,” Luke said.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Beautiful And Practical. Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2021

Lucie and Luke Meier‘s Jil Sander always feels like blank canvas, in a good way. No non-sense references, just delightful, soft minimalism that will never be “out”. And, you will love it even while staying at home. “Fashion is always a commentary,” reflected Luke. “It’s actually a very reactionary phenomenon, in that it reacts towards the zeitgeist, the moods and emotions of people or else towards a certain music or artist. So it’s only right that now you feel that need for ease in collections. What’s happening, it’s just impossible to ignore no matter how much designers are prone to live in a sort of creative bubble.” Lucie chimed in during a Zoom call with Vogue from the Jil Sander showroom: “This is presently the world we have to face, so we felt that in our work, it is really important that we’re not totally in dreamland. Our reality dictates today a different approach, whereas in other moments as a designer, you gravitate more towards a different set of references and inspirations. But we really felt that this is now and you just can’t ignore the different way we’re interacting together.” Having quarantined in their apartment in Milan, the Meiers wanted the collection to convey a more homey feel, albeit rendered with their exacting sophistication. To further channel the message, the look book was shot in an apartment, a modernist space mirroring the polished minimalism they favor (this part felt quite Bottega-Veneta-ish). Sensitive to the mood-lifting role fashion has to play now, they introduced a touch of spirited softness, a sort of feel-good factor which complemented the collection’s yin-yang dynamic between the ease of sporty practicality and the elegance of their chic, angular tailoring. Case in point: slightly oversized masculine blazers, whose straight-cut precision was contrasted by the delicately embroidered circle skirts and slender yet luscious dresses they were worn with. This year’s ubiquitous track pants were elevated in soft Nappa leather and worn under a collarless, sharp-cut jacket. It made for a cool silhouette, a kind of of-the-moment alternative to the classic tailored pantsuit. The intimacy, warmth, and protection we’re all craving inspired a series of great knitted pieces. An oversized wool-silk sweater was wrapped with a huge matching scarf, while a form-fitting, sporty ribbed dress opened to reveal soft cashmere leggings underneath, its exaggerated collar becoming an enveloping cape when unzipped. Artsy Bauhaus-inspired jewelry, including golden ribbon-shaped portrait necklaces and sculptural bracelets, added a dash of vibrance, while oversized bags in luxurious, supple leathers looked comforting and pillowy in a tactile, playful way. “Let’s be realistic—fashion isn’t going to cure the problems we’re in today,” the Meiers concluded. “But if putting on something beautiful elevates our mood a little, if we can provide something that’s inspiring as much as it’s practically useful, that’s then us doing a good job.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Elevated Softness. Jil Sander SS21

Minimalism is integral to the Jil Sander brand, and Lucie and Luke Meier make it feminine, contemporary and distinct. And embracing a consistent, visually-recognisable signature is something that’s key to many brands this season. The designers have been back in the Jil Sander studio since May. They’re thoughtful about the lockdown and the changed new world that they returned to, but resolved. “We’re going about life in a normal way, just wearing masks,” Lucie said on a Zoom call. Their new collection for the brand, where they recently rounded their three-year mark, responds to some of the shifts we’re all living through, with more time at home and fewer social engagements to buy for. Luke said they emphasized daywear, for instance. To be sure, there are no stay-at-home sweatsuits in the Meiers’ new lineup. Instead, Lucie said, they “softened” their tailored silhouette and added sheer organza to the mix for a more “intimate” sensibility. In a video they filmed for the season, models clutched pillowy, unstructured bags designed to feel “comforting to carry.” The collection is enlivened by zingy shots of gold and yellow amid its neutrals: flat metallic leather boots that extend above the knee, a sunny dress that follows the line of the torso but flares gently below the hips. Clothes with a human touch are Meiers’ signature. That came across this season in the hand-crocheted overlays worn on top of slip dresses and in the way a shawl was tied voluptuously over the shoulders of a sleeveless tee. A pair of hourglass-y color-block sheaths were a surprise, a glimpse of a more carnal side that felt especially new in the context of Jil Sander.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Thoughtful. Jil Sander Resort 2021

If the pandemic has made us consider a more thoughtful, responsible approach to fashion consumption and an appreciation for the consistency of values expressed by a labels’ ethos, then Jil Sander’s Lucie and Luke Meier could find themselves in a good position. “In a certain way, the pandemic has just reaffirmed what we believe in,” they said during their resort presentation, held at the brand’s showroom in Milan. “This tragic situation has made people take a long, hard look at themselves, their habits, their values. It’s what we’ve done. We really still find that our path is a good one; our philosophy hasn’t changed.” The Meiers have built their fashion credentials around a care for quality, creating pieces that stand the test of time while being of the moment, with an emphasis on great execution. The human touch of craftsmanship is paramount to their aesthetic – just take a look at a clean-cut, pleated dress in butter yellow linen with embroidered jacquard inserts appliqued on the peasant sleeves, all woven by a family in Sardinia with traditional local techniques. For resort, the designers favored pure silhouettes, together with their flair for style opposites: strong proportions and sensible fabrics; a masculine sharpness of cut and delicate choice of colors. Shapes were kept sculptural but softer than usual; suiting was given a chic modernist feel, as in a sharp-cut masculine blazer in cream wool silk gazar paired with a circle-cut, cone-shaped asymmetrical matching skirt. Contrasting the restraint the designers favor, a comforting, pillowy padded blanket cape in high-shine white silk satin with baby blue inserts was thrown languidly over a feminine double-cashmere sleeveless dress. Meiers’ conceptual approach to the brand is all about consistency: “We don’t think that the Jil Sander woman really changes,” they said. “She cares about really good design, beautiful fabrics, pieces that are very well made; all these elements are now becoming more important than ever. People will probably consume less but better; they still want to treat themselves to a beautiful piece.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.