MILAN — After several good-byes, the Jil Sander group is ready to say hello to a new creative director — Italian designer Rodolfo Paglialunga. His first collection will bow in September for the spring 2015 season.
“He is the most fitting designer to write the new pages of the Jil Sander story,” chief executive officer Alessandro Cremonesi told WWD. “He has the right characteristics and the experience to evolve the Jil Sander brand in a new direction while respecting its essential traits.”
Paglialunga started honing his skills with Romeo Gigli in the early Nineties. In 1996, he joined Prada, where he worked for 10 years, eventually becoming women’s wear design director. In March 2009, attracted by his knack for arty cuts and constructions, former Vionnet owners Matteo Marzotto and Gianni Castiglioni tapped the designer as creative director of the brand. Paglialunga helped dust off Vionnet with his distinctive, glamorous shapes and rich textures, until he left the company in fall 2011.
“I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to take on this role. I have boundless admiration for the brand as I strongly believe in its pure vision and values,” said Paglialunga. “My aim is to carry forward the fusion between sophistication, luxury and innovation and bring the house [to] the next level.”
The designer, who hails from Tolentino, in Italy’s central Marche region, will be based in Milan, where the company is headquartered. Cremonesi underscored that he had faith Paglialunga will ensure “an evolution, not a revolution” of the label.
While recognizing that he was “very happy” with the collections produced by the design team following the exit of the brand’s namesake designer in October 2013, Cremonesi said he felt a label must be “personified by a creative mind that will clearly indicate a direction.” A creative director will “channel the brand with retailers and the press. In fashion, this embodiment is important,” he added.
Asked if Sander herself had contributed to the selection of a successor, Cremonesi responded that this was “the company’s autonomous decision.”
While industry observers had expressed concern over the future of the brand following the sudden departure of Sander last year and the implications of a disconnect from its founder, Cremonesi was upbeat about the company’s yet-untapped potential. “The label has not been tied to its founder for a long time. A number of different designers have been in charge, and we are at ease about the strength and potential of the brand. It has an evolving, independent history,” he remarked. “This is a multiyear agreement [with Paglialunga], and we reason in the medium-long term.”
Cremonesi also said owner Onward Holdings Co. Ltd. stands by the brand and firmly denied any idea of a sale of the business.
The label will “continue to be positioned in the high-end range,” and Cremonesi said a priority is to develop the accessories category, specifically handbags and shoes. He cited the Jil Bag as “a very successful” piece. The bag is being celebrated with a traveling exhibition hitting cities including Milan, Shanghai, Tokyo, Chicago, Paris, Berlin and Hamburg, Germany.
In 2014, Jil Sander will further develop its retail network, focusing on “America, which will become increasingly more important, given its growth potential; Asia, and Japan,” said Cremonesi. Last year, the company entered China with stores in Beijing and Shanghai. There are currently 59 Jil Sander stores globally.
Sales last year were “flat,” said the executive, standing at 100 million euros, or $132 million at average exchange. “The year 2013 was not easy for anybody in the industry, and our company was hit by currency headwinds, also in light of the fact that the brand has a relevant presence in Japan,” he explained.
In October, for personal reasons, Jil Sander stepped down from the company she founded in 1968. She had returned for the third time to her namesake brand in February 2012, after Raf Simons’ seven-year tenure. Sander rose to fame in the Eighties and Nineties with her tailored basics crafted from luxurious fabrics. The designer sold 75 percent of her company to Prada Group in 1999, and made a highly publicized exit a year later. She was succeeded by Milan Vukmirovic, who did sporty disco flash until Sander returned in May 2003, only to split again 18 months later. After her second departure, the brand’s creative reins were handed over to its long-standing design team.
Prada tapped Simons as Sander’s new creative director in July 2005. The brand changed hands two more times during Simons’ tenure. Change Capital Partners acquired Sander from Prada in February 2006 and sold it to Japan’s Onward Holdings two years later.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye