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.