Backstage at Jil Sander Spring 2017

PARIS — Could Jil Sander be mulling a change in creative direction?

According to market sources, the Milan-based house has been in touch with a number of in-the-news designers recently, including rising French fashion star Simon Porte Jacquemus and Lucie Meier, one half of the Swiss design duo that ably handled the reins at Dior between the exit of couturier Raf Simons and the arrival of his successor, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The likelihood of any engagement could not immediately be learned, and neither of the Paris-based designers could be reached for comment.

Franco Pené, chairman of Gibò Group, a subsidiary of Onward Holdings, which controls Jil Sander, said current creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga is “on board, present and active, and is developing the brand’s fall-winter collection. There are a lot of rumors, but all is proceeding regularly with Rodolfo.”

Still, the contact with designers suggest that Jil Sander could part ways with Paglialunga, who assumed the design helm in April 2014 and showed his first collection for the spring 2015 season.

An alumnae of Romeo Gigli and Prada, who emerged from the shadows in 2009 when he took up the design reins at Vionnet, Paglialunga has received mixed reviews for his Sander collections amid a tough environment for luxury apparel.

The talks take place at a time of upheaval at European design houses, with Marni, Roberto Cavalli, Carven and Brioni among those making creative shifts in the past month alone. The most recent Paris Fashion Week saw debuts at Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Lanvin.

Jil Sander has seen its share of turbulence in the design studio, with the founding German designer exiting and returning several times, finally stepping down for good in 2013 from the company she founded in 1968.

She had returned for the third time in February 2012 after Raf Simons’ seven-year tenure.

Prior to that, Milan Vukmirovic plied sporty disco flash for a stint and the brand also went several seasons with its long-standing design team and no star designer taking the bow.

Prada tapped Simons as Sander’s new creative director in July 2005. The brand changed hands two more times during the designer’s tenure. Change Capital Partners acquired Sander from Prada in February 2006 and sold it to Japan’s Onward Holdings two years later.

Sander rose to fame in the Eighties and Nineties with her minimalist tailoring crafted from luxurious fabrics.

Jacquemus, who shows his signature collection in Paris, describes his designs as “naïve, raw and smiley,” reflected in a fondness for geometric shapes, often rendered in workwear fabrics.

Meier and Serge Ruffieux respectively headed spring and fall ready-to-wear and couture studios under Simons before stepping into the spotlight. Meier worked in the design studios of Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton earlier in her career.

According to one source, her husband Luke Meier, cofounder and designer of men’s label OAMC, could also be in the frame for Jil Sander, which produces full ranges for women and men.

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