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.

Soft Minimalist Femininity. Jil Sander AW20

Lucie and Luke Meier‘s Jil Sander for autumn-winter 2020 is, simply speaking, beautiful. It’s the peak condensation of the aesthetic they’ve created at the label: soft, minimalist femininity. The knitted dress hug the body, the over-sized tailoring guards the wearer, the blanket-like, fleecy throws bring comfort and warmth… everything’s a delight. The show was staged with wooden chairs arranged in a round-edge rectangle in the center of the runway: the models walked the perimeter and took their seats. Backstage, Lucie and Luke talked about capturing movement and emotion, and the sense of stillness the models inhabited set off both. The Meiers practice a more considered, tranquile sort of fashion, one that puts primacy over noisy Insta-moments. What’s not to love about it?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Pure and Forever. Jil Sander AW20

For the autumn-winter 2020 season, Lucie and Luke Meier presented their men’s Jil Sander collection at Pitti Uomo in Florence. In the complex of the Santa Maria Novella, where the show was staged (accompanied by three huge heaps of marigolds), stands an ancient pharmacy dating back to the 13th century in which balms and salves have been concocted from calendula for generations. This created a connection to the fine silk tassels – confession box Catholic, but here mostly in monochrome – that sparked thoughts of local historical attire, as did a carefully roughened white habit that passed in the collection. Still, the Meiers don’t need references to stand behind their clothes. Lucie spoke of wanting to make garments with lifetime appeal (“cherishable clothes”). The Shetland knitwear, the fantasic, over-sized tailoring, the ornamental, yet subtle beaded details on the coats – those are clothes that will stay with you forever and never get out of fashion.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Fluidity. Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2020

Lucie and Luke Meier‘s vision for Jil Sander is all about soft, tactile minimalism (which occasionally lets some eclecticism in). For pre-fall 2020, the duo once again showed their appreciation for craft. A skirt suit was padded and stitched with an abstract floral motif, while an ensemble in soft pink satin had a luscious, almost liquid finish. Fluidity of the silhouette is a big topic for the Meiers – they continue to master it, creating refined, feminine, yet magically comfortable forms. Please do note the feminine lines of the décolletages, borrowed from corsetry and delicately lined with inconspicuous embroideries (see the high-waisted ruched slipdress). Art references are also crucial in their vision for Jil Sander. Recently, the designers have been fascinated by the Viennese Secession movement, extensively researching the work of Wiener Werkstätte’s artists like Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and the textile designer Maria Lucia Stadlmayer. Their aesthetics, which flourished at the juncture of Art Nouveau’s sensuality and Japonisme’s sophisticated restraint, clearly appealed to the Meiers. For pre-fall, Stadlmayer’s graphic patterns were reproduced in their original proportions and colors on sheer organza layers, juxtaposed over sharp-cut silk twill or silk jersey shirts, skirts, and tunics, inducing a slightly kinetic, blurred chromatic effect. “We used the motifs on their authentic scale, because you have permission from the archives in Vienna to reproduce them only in the exact proportions and colors she intended to use,” they said. “We really cared about keeping the integrity of the design; we didn’t want to appropriate them in the wrong way.”

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.