Simply Precious. Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2023

Hello in 2023!

The mood Luke and Lucie Meier were after for Jil Sander‘s pre-fall 2023 was that of “couture mixed with a sportier feel. We like the attitude of elevated functionality, without compromising on interesting volumes and high-quality fabrics and execution.” A clear message indeed, one which they explored in their rainy spring show. The Meiers are inquisitive, soul-searching designers, and questioning their practice is part of the equation. Highlighting the ‘opposites attract’ tension intrinsic to their aesthetic, they asked, “how do you make things that feel very immediate, fresh-feeling, and modern but also have this inherent couture rigor of technique and shape?” The dynamic between precision and glamour, or utility and sensuality played out throughout the collection, with silhouettes alternating between the voluminous and airy, and the slender and close to the body. Classic couture volumes like the cape, the balloon dress, and the opera coat were given a sporty twist and a comforting feel of ease through the counterintuitive use of high-end fabrics. A cape dress was made in thick jersey; a poufy floral-printed and pleated-plastron minidress was cut from papery recycled polyester. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a slender silhouette conveyed a more athletic, agile language in long silk ribbed knit dresses with racerback tops. Remarkable examples of their obsession with the hand-feel of materials were in evidence throughout. A fringed backless top in hand-knitted open-stitch with geometric motifs looked rather striking, as did both a sinuous ivory slip dress with embroidered ajour details and an asymmetrical floral-patterned guipure skirt. On a similar note, four different fabrics were cut into petal-shaped feathers, and then applied decoratively over a miniskirt and a sleeveless top. The effect was both light and luxurious. “Precious in a simple way,” was how the designers’ summarized the allure of the collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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NET-A-PORTER Limited

Utilitarian Glamour. Jil Sander SS23

We asked ourselves what feels modern,” Lucie Meier said, while discussing her and Luke Meier‘s spring-summer 2023 collection for Jil Sander. All of Milan has gone sexy, but the Meiers have a different take on modernity. “We looked at clashing glamour into very simple workwear, our fundamental very simple pattern cutting and then doing things that are more eccentric,” Luke added. That might mean something as straightforward as cutting cargo pants in silk satin or as extravagant as pairing a strapless confetti sequined evening dress with sneakers. The Meiers have always incorporated craft into their work, but whereas in the past macramé and crochet gave their clothes an earthy sensibility, this collection had a shiny gloss – the glam factor. A tank top and midi-kilt were embellished with cloud-shaped mirrors, and the lineup’s single print was lifted from the L.A. street grid after dark, the turned-on lights making a graphic pattern. A knit dress was made using thick yarn with baked-in sequins, and there were feathers galore: peeking from the hem of a sleeveless cotton dress, wrapped around the neck, decorating the large clutch that was one of their bags of the season. Most luscious was the group of finale looks, whose excesses of sequined knit fringe bounced like jellyfish as the models padded down the gravel runway that was actually a chic garden. The only thing that didn’t feel right was the abrupt rain.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Balance. Jil Sander Resort 2023

The creative dynamic Luke and Lucie Meier have brought to Jil Sander isn’t just a reflection of the two of them sharing art and life, but also an echo of the big-picture conversation about the redefinition of identities around the intersection of masculine and feminine codes. “In our designs there’s always this tension between the masculine and the feminine,” they mused in their studio in Milan. “It’s always there in some form or another.” The husband and wife pair complement each other with the same easy flair that they give their experiments between rigor and plasticity, severity and fluidity. They describe their process as an exercise in “searching and finding that right pull, whether it’s an artisanal gesture breaking something very strict, or something soft being broken by something very rigid and structured. That play is always there.” For resort their search for a point of symmetric repose between opposites played out in what they called “deflating couture,” a turn of phrase defining sculptural, elegant volumes “collapsing” into softer, gentler, fluid shapes. Seen through this lens, their suiting consisted of sharp-cut, narrow-shouldered, and fitted jackets worn over ultra-voluminous trousers, almost like next-generation palazzo pants. The sartorial is a territory the Meiers navigate skillfully, favoring extreme precision in cutting and construction as well as a romantic feel for the handcrafted; a case in point was a sharp-structured, overcoat in a pale mauve, without lapels, fastened with a single hand-blown glass jewel button, and worn over a black tunic with a feminine ruffled collar. The play between fluidity and structure gave the collection character and appeal, and was consistent throughout. An elongated dress of voluminous couture construction was made in delicate white cotton voile, a rather humble material; straight-cut tunics and tops with plunging necklines were given a transformable twist with the addition of turtlenecks or t-shirts in contrasting colors worn underneath. The season’s version of the tuxedo had a similar versatile approach; it was proposed as a fluid combination of a pleated-bib black chemise and a pair of billowy, liquid trousers. You cannot take the sense of rigorous chic out of the Meiers.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Soft Elegance. Jil Sander AW22

In a season when designers are desperately targeting Gen-Z, Jil Sander’s Lucie and Luke Meier made clothes for grown-ups. That kind of commitment breeds loyalty in women of a certain demographic and income bracket who feel left out of the fashion conversation (and still love Old Céline). “We were thinking about elegance,” Lucie said backstage. “We really wanted to focus on sculptural tailoring, almost couture-like, but we like this new energy, a very cropped silhouette.” The Jil Sander woman is wearing a wool skirt suit, its jacket sculpted with an hourglass volume and the skirt just peeking out from beneath its hem, or a slightly longer, flippier skirt with a cape-like jacket. Completing the silhouette are Chelsea boots with gold hardware, flat and sturdy. Dresses with the same above-the-knee proportion and flat bows at the shoulders and waist called to mind Pierre Cardin, whose death in late 2020 has precipitated new interest in his brand of 1960s minimalism. There were longer, softer lengths as well, including on a group of black dresses whose special details – a deep-v neckline, say, or voluminous bell sleeves – gave them a lot of cost-per-wear value. The Meiers have made handcrafts (like macramé and crochet) an essential part of their Jil Sander aesthetic. This season they pared that back, featuring only one print of astrological signs on drapey stretch jersey or quilted satin, choosing three-dimensional fabrics with surface appeal, like the bouclé on a pair of short dresses and the finer gauge knit of a long dress with fuzzy mohair sleeves. The exception was the guipure lace they used for a trio of long dresses, including one in a sensational shade of marigold. The white and black versions were shown with tailored single-breasted jackets, which is indeed a very elegant, very grown-up way to approach black-tie.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Sensual Masculinity. Jil Sander AW22

There’s always been a puritanical quality to the work of Lucie and Luke Meier, but in this Jil Sander collection, it transitioned into a more articulated kumbaya. That sensibility was carried by crochet wrapped around necks and heads and spliced with oversized blazers and tuxedo jackets that couldn’t have made for a bigger contrast. “We liked this really elegant, masculine silhouette, but with a sensual side to it, as well,” Lucie Meier said after the show. “We start a lot with tailoring, just to see what we really want to do and say and what we care about. But this time, we worked it into typically feminine techniques as well,” Luke Meier added. The meeting between crochet and strong tailoring made for expressions that were more focused on trend and statement pieces than previous proposals from the Meiers, whose collections usually feel more centered around the idea of a wardrobe. Backstage, Lucie pointed as to why: “You kind of miss people who really dress up and have a kind of eccentricity,” she said, referring to the way the pandemic has cramped our collective style, or at least our opportunity to show off said style. As a symbol of “personality and individuality,” Luke said, the designers scattered astrology prints and zodiac embroideries around the collection, intensifying the hippie energy of it all, only to contrast it with the rigidity of sharp lapels poking out from layers under jackets, and suit trousers tucked into hard, pointy Santiago boots with metal heel caps. It was a bold proposition for post-pandemic self-expression, but one the aspiring street style stars of fashion week will no doubt embrace.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.