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.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)