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Jil Sander Confirms Return of Founder

German designer takes over from Raf Simons as creative director.

MILAN — Jil Sander SpA said its founding designer is returning to the creative helm effective Tuesday.

This confirms a report on WWD.com on Thursday.
 

 

The German designer returns to the Milan-based firm after an eight-year absence, marking her third comeback to the label. Her first collection will be shown in June for the men’s spring/summer 2013 season.

“I am very happy and excited to be back. It feels like coming home after a brief journey,” Sander stated. “The fashion world needs original voices and genuine signatures. I will do my best to, once again, join the choir.”


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The development comes one day after Sander and Raf Simons, its creative director since 2005, jointly announced they would part ways after Simons shows Sander’s fall/winter 2012 collection here on Saturday.

 

“It’s almost too good to be true,” commented Sander chief executive officer Alessandro Cremonesi. “Jil Sander’s human passion and visionary strength are a priceless force for the future of our company. Her entrepreneurial attitude will be highly beneficial to all aspects of the Jil Sander Group.”

In a statement, Sander’s Japanese owner Onward Holdings Co. Ltd. and its European subsidiary GIBO Co. SpA characterized Sander’s return as an “important step to foster a long-term growth development that was part of the strategic plan which led to the brand acquisition in 2008.”

 

Sander, who founded her namesake house in Hamburg in 1968, sold 75 percent of her company to Prada Group in 1999, and made a highly publicized exit a year later. Her return in May 2003 was widely welcomed, but she left the company again a short time later.
 

 

The brand changed hands two more times during Simons’ tenure. Change Capital Partners acquired the brand from Prada in February 2006, and flipped it to Onward two years later.
 

 

In her most recent post-Sander career, Sander did a highly publicized stint in fast fashion. In March 2009, she struck a a partnership with Uniqlo, a unit of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. 
 
Last June 2011, Uniqlo parted ways with the German designer, now 68.

 

Sander returns to the designer arena following a recent evolution of minimalist fashion, perhaps best exemplified by Phoebe Philo’s influential work for Celine.

 

Her predecessor, Simons, was also a devout modernist who was loyal to the founder’s obsession with “purism,” even as he incorporated a range of influences — from tribalism to mid-century French couture — into recent collections.

In an interview last year to discuss her partnership with Uniqlo, Sander did not rule out returning to high fashion at some point.

The designer, who rose to fame in the Eighties and Nineties with her tailored basics crafted from luxurious fabrics, said she revels in taking a democratic approach to fashion.

She even went so far as to praise the Sander company for launching a new diffusion line of its own called Jil Sander Navy. “I think it’s very zeitgeist…a reflection that is very right and is maybe also the same feeling I have,” she told WWD at the time.