Dutch Heritage. Sies Marjan AW20

This was one of the best collections coming from Sander Lak’s Sies Marjan to date. The designer is known for his incredible skills in colour combinations, and this time he nailed it with the earthy tones, gorgeous metallics and warm nude palette. The shoes – which were inspired by the traditional wooden, clogs from Netherlands – hinted that the designer might have thought of the masterful colours used by Dutch masters. And you can really see Vermeer, Ruisdael and Ter Borch in these mixes of browns, yellows and greens. Another factor that shaped the collection? Later this month, New York’s Guggenheim Museum will host Rem Koolhaas’s “Countryside: The Future” exhibition. The exhibit is a radical break from the fine art displays typically housed inside the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda. Instead of art, per se, it will exhibit scientific and cultural research collected by Koolhaas and his AMO team relating to the broad idea of the countryside and all its functions. Sies Marjan is one of the exhibition’s sponsors, and to mark the partnership between the brand, the museum, and Koolhaas, Lak themed his autumn-winter 2020 collection around ideas of the countryside. After a year-long deep-dive into the broadest notions of the theme, he went down material paths, collaborating with Cornell University on plant dyeing techniques that produced the floral patterns in the collection through hammering leaves directly onto fiber. A Dutch artist, Claudy Jongstra, lent her sustainable wool material made from sheeps’ sheddings to shaggy blue-green vests and blankets. A raffia-like material on a black top is actually made from plant roots engineered by artist Diana Scherer to grow in specific patterns. These natural textile developments lent a beautiful connection to the Earth within Lak’s collection. He continued this rawness in his produced fabrics by screen printing a gold film onto cotton twills and a mossy fil coupé. It’s rare to see a collection filled with so much thought – and looking this easy! In the end of the day, we’ve got some very genuine clothes for both women and men.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Colours. Sies Marjan SS20

Colours are Sander Lak‘s element. The Sies Marjan designer proves that once again with his spring-summer 2020 collection, which mesmerizes with its colour palette and oozes with certain festiveness. Burgundy combined with denim blue, lipstick red mixed with emerald green, pastel lilac contrasted with sharp yellow. Here you can also notice Sander’s ventures into the art of draping. This collection isn’t a ground-breaker, but has lots of daywear that will help go through the sometimes grey routine. In general, there’s optimism all over the first days of New York fashion week, and the twirling models and confetti rain at the finale of Sies Marjan confirm that.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

About Falling In Love. Sies Marjan AW19

Seven seasons in, and Sies Marjan is one of New York fashion week’s most anticipated brands. The autumn-winter 2019 show was a moment, mainly because of the venue that looked like some sort of cosmic, or rather magical, space. The darkened setting brought a mysterious aura, while the floor, covered with millions of Swarovski crystals, was quite something. Are we on a crystal moon? A witch tent? The clothes were equally appealing with their gorgeous colour palette (Sander Lak‘s specialty) and charming allure. This season,  the designer wondered about falling in love and having a relationship – with his brand. Relationships tend to fluctuate, and Lak realised that through working with colours and materials he usually tries to avoid. “I really challenged myself,” he said. “I was totally over neon, but I wanted this season to grab it again and see if I could make myself fall in love with it again. We used a lot of lace too, and I hate lace, I never liked lace. But I really liked the idea of how can I make myself fall in love with this thing that’s not something I organically go toward.” The result? A line-up of gorgeous eveningwear that’s feminine, yet not banal. The black dress – a first ever from Sies Marjan – was another unprecedented highlight. “Black is something I’m not comfortable with at all in clothes,” said Lak. “That was the hardest dress to make.” The pleated lamé number looked outstanding, even if the way to it was a struggle. But then, every relationship has its ups and downs.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Family Affair. Sies Marjan SS19

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As in Mary J. Blige’s song, it was a family affair at the Sies Marjan spring-summer 2019 runway. “This one was emotionally intense . . . my mother was in the show, as were friends from college, new friends, old friends, people I work with, and models that we love”, Sander Lak noted backstage of his show. Model castings that consist of model veterans (Małgosia Bela, Sasha Pivovarova), runway regulars (Aymeline Valade, Kiki Willems and let’s add Kaia Gerber to that list too) and real life people of different ages, sizes and skin colour are the best, as they present the clothes in the most universal way. You can really observe how the designer envisions his fashion for women (and men, as in case of Sies Marjan), not just on a rack, but in the daily life. But this wasn’t a typical Sies Marjan collection due to another reason. While the last seasons of this relatively young, New York-based label blasted with colour and surprised with the most unlikely pastel combinations, this line-up was calmer and more structured. White, khaki, ecru, navy, burgundy: the overall impression was more down-to-earth, grounded. There was the marine theme that was a nod to Sander’s father (“That was a lot about my dad, who passed away when I was young. He was living in Saudi Arabia, and I would see him wear cargo shorts in this particular green and Ralph Lauren stripe-y polos.”), but as well many new silhouettes that seem to broaden the range of Lak’s ready-to-wear. Loose blazers, maxi-dressses, short-sleeved shirts and PVC coats are the new additions, which signal the designer’s gradual confidence in creating his own ‘wardrobe essentials’. But aren’t we having too many essentials coming from too many labels? In a way, I felt that the distinctive ‘codes’ of Sies Marjan kind of got lost in this season’s huge offering. I missed Sander’s consistence that made his previous collections so fluent. There were too many layers, making the collection’s core no longer clear. The skyscrapers illustration print popped out of nowhere on a dress; the last few looks in neon yellow and orange were unnecessary, as they disturbed the rest of the collection’s peaceful tone. The diverse casting is a right step, as it demonstrates how a range of people can easily resonate with the brand. But then, going the path of pleasing everybody isn’t a good idea for a brand like Sies Marjan

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lucid. Sies Marjan AW18

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While for the last few seasons I didn’t really understand Sander Lak‘s phenomenon, his autumn-winter 2018 collection looks, well, really good to me. Since the start of his eponymous label, Sies Marjan, Lak indulged himself in pastels mostly. “Last season was light, a dreamy state. This is still a dream but an intense one. Not a nightmare, not a happy dream, not a wet dream.” Then, a lucid dream! This time around, it’s more about psychedelic ombré of iris purple, crimson red, deep blue and forest green. Colour has always been his soft spot, and the collection shows how good the designer is in mixing and crushing the most unlikely palettes. From gowns draped with taffeta and cute shearling jackets to slouchy suits and relaxed pajama shirts, it’s like a delightful, yet demanding, spectrum of must-haves. If Sander’s latest collection had its colour palette’s name, I would definitely call it the ‘sweet melancholia’.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.