Today is Jil Sander’s first official day back at the house that bears her name. Let’s hope her third tenure there is handled more gracefully than the debacle of the past few days, when news of the shake-up erupted just in advance of Raf Simons’ last show.
Simons leaves — more correctly, he was unceremoniously dumped — at the top of his game. A designer of women’s wear neither by education (he studied furniture design) nor first sartorial vocation (he started in men’s), in 2005 he took over a house in distress after some bad decisions — including the one by its founder to sell into a situation, which, in retrospect, would almost surely lead to a clash of personalities — and turned it around, at least creatively. He made it not only relevant again but essential. RELATED STORY: Jil Sander RTW Fall 2012 >>
Under Simons, Jil Sander became one of a handful of fashion’s must-sees. His clothes have been consistently provocative, vibrant, thoughtful. And gorgeous. His past four collections — culminating with his breathtaking tour de force on Saturday — have been some of the most exciting and important by anyone in recent memory.
This dismissal is inexplicable to me. A matter of commercial viability? If these clothes aren’t salable, I’m sad for fashion. In her comments to WWD on Monday, Sander invoked the need “to break rules, if there is a good reason. Now is the time to be daring,there are few new ideas.” A good number of fashion’s recent good ideas emerged on Simons’ runway, notably the modernization of classic couture elements and their infusion with a sporty attitude.
Sander also said, “I feel that the spirit and enlightened development of basics has a lot to do with the future of fashion.” Agreed. Up and down the food chain, basics will always form the core of most people’s wardrobes. But at the luxury level at least, such basics should provide background for greater fashion. If the passion, thirst and — bottom line — market for such fashion no longer exists or is endangered, then why do we all sit on our fannies at these shows for four weeks straight, spending lots of corporate money along the way? So brands can build their fragrance businesses? Basics, even the toniest ones, can now be seen to fine advantage on Ed Filipowski’s Digitalfashionshows.com. If fashion’s future lies primarily in basics, is the advanced designer species robbed of its raison d’être? Should the sensible, savvy creative director move in and take over?
But I digress. That’s a different, if related, topic for a different day. My point here is twofold: First, I just don’t get this change. Second, it was handled badly. On point one, how many shows are genuinely memorable by season’s end, let alone into the future? Oh so few, and Simons’ percentage over the past few years is sky-high. Yet of the industry comments I read in WWD Monday, most (except for those of Anna Wintour, Ken Downing and Linda Fargo) veered highly political, toward “The King is dead! Long live the Queen!” making me think I’m in a minority. Why? Weren’t some of the respondents among those who left Simons’ shows gushing?
Back to the commerciality issue: Was a proper infrastructure ever installed at Jil Sander? I don’t know. There have been mentions of the company’s inability to build an accessories business. Was that essential support in place? Though one bum handbag does not a production crisis make, I wonder. At Christmas, I bought a glorious Sander runway bag, only to discover that day that the handle leather had split. A production issue; not a design issue.
On point two, let’s assume that for whatever reason, Onward Holdings Co. Ltd. and Gibò Co. SpA decided it was time for a change. It’s their right. No matter how talented, respected or productive one has been within the workplace, as well-employed people from Tom Ford to Peyton Manning know, we all serve at the discretion of management. Perhaps, despite her prolonged absence from the workaday realities of luxury fashion, Sander’s abrupt availability after her split with Uniqlo was too enticing to resist.
That doesn’t excuse the clumsy handling of the change — even given that the press, primarily my dogged colleague Miles Socha — was all over rumors that started percolating weeks ago. Where did they come from? I have no idea, but their escalation just might have had something to do with Sander strolling openly around Première Vision, and, when asked why by WWD Japan, responding that the announcement of her next project would come during the Milan collections.
It’s hard to believe that this longtime master of the Garbo technique didn’t consider that silence (or just not being there in the first place) might be golden. Surprising conduct from Sander, who loves to project elegance of behavior. (Nor is it her first suspension of such; when retailer Janet Brown, who was among Sander’s first and most impassioned U.S. champions, died, Sander refused to contribute to Brown’s obit with more than a one-line comment.) Knowing well in advance that fall 2000 would likely be her (first) last show at the then Prada-owned company, Sander orchestrated it to the nines, the presentation calm, the audience “intimate” and her show notes offering words of fortitude. She’d been able to write her own exit scene; she wasn’t blindsided. As it turns out, with far less time for psychological preparation, Simons’ show, and the spontaneous audience outpouring, felt genuine and moving. No matter. It’s surprising that Sander would act with such apparent disregard for another designer.
The chapter may be written, but not the book — or books. Sander may have a lot of fabulous fashion left in her. We know Simons does. Here’s wishing them both all the best.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)