Lucie and Luke Meier like to do things that “feel right.” This was a recurring expression the designers used throughout a preview held in Milan at Jil Sander’s headquarters ahead of the brand’s fall/winter show in Paris on Jan. 18. It will be the first men’s runway show after they experimented with the coed format in Milan and men’s presentations — the latter two in Paris.
The Meiers, however, do not precisely want to split cities and shows. “It was not a decision to do men’s in Paris and women’s in Milan,” said Luke Meier. “We have a really strong attraction to Paris, it’s very personal to us and Lucie was living there for a very long time,” he said, referring to his wife’s experiences at Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Dior. The couple took on the creative helm at Jil Sander in April 2017. “We like to have a foot in both [cities] and we figured out how to bring an element of Jil Sander in Paris and have an element here in Milan — it’s nice.”
Choosing to hold a runway show now instead of a presentation, he shrugged differences away. “It’s cool to have a show, but the work is kind of the same. There are a lot of things to be taken into consideration with a presentation, too, from music to scenography — with a show you just have to count pants and shoes differently,” he said with a soft laugh.
“We’ve always treated the clothes in our presentations like a show collection anyhow,” said Lucie Meier.
“It felt like the right time and the right thing to do, we can have a long conversation about the show format, but it’s still the best way to create the right atmosphere,” mused her husband. “We want to be progressive, have an eye on what to do in the future and the show is the best for us now.”
“It’s a moment, with all the people in one room, music and atmosphere,” added Lucie Meier. The show will be “quite intimate and elegant, not a massive production” over four salons in the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild.
“It feels right. In men’s wear, the closeness to clothes is valued, where you can see the fabric structure and intricate detailing,” Luke said.
Initially supporters of coed shows, the couple has moved away from that format. “It helped show our vision in the beginning, but both [divisions] have an identity, with very strong characters,” said Lucie. “It’s nice to give the space to women and sometimes it felt like men’s wear became an accessory — we wanted to avoid that and give each their own space.”
“At first, the ideas felt they could work for both in a strong way, without ever forcing anything into either one, it was a single, fluid concept,” said Luke. But in time it has become organic to deliver separate collections.
“The way we approach the collections, it’s personal and autobiographical. Of course Luke wears more men’s looks and has a different understanding of the garment, of the movement with the clothes, but we work together on both the collections,” said Lucie.
For fall, expect to see a sharper, more sartorial silhouette, as the designers “really wanted to play with tailoring a lot.” They conceded there is a lot of talk around whether sportswear has reached a peak, but Luke Meier said he and his wife are led by “what we think is relevant, what we like, what we are drawn to. Personally, I wanted to make the collection more polished.” This also means the looks are “more straightforward, not too complicated. We were searching for purity and I think we’ve achieved that.” Volumes are more restrained and defined.
Lucie pointed to the “uniform world, to workwear” to define the overarching inspiration.
Case in point: A burgundy or gray-blue mélange linen and viscose belted look comprising an overshirt worn over a turtleneck and tapered and cropped pants. Accessories included sleek hiking boots and slim, structured leather pouches.
A sharp, double-breasted ottoman-striped, belted cotton and viscose coat was flanked by a blue-gray, slightly oversize coat in Japanese wool with a utilitarian feel.
The Meiers continued their extensive research into materials. “We go to the very end with a lot of ideas and fabrications of different yarns,” said Luke. “It’s very important, we are mostly attracted to natural fibers, quite honest fabrics. Nothing feels synthetic, in a visual sense, too.”
A futuristic edge has marked some of the designers’ looks for Jil Sander in previous collections, but Luke shrugged that “maybe it comes out that way, but we are not trying to make things that look futuristic — maybe the fabrics and materials give that feeling, it’s a process and that’s what happens.”
The designers have succeeded in catching a younger generation’s attention, partially through a savvy use of social media and digital communication. But Luke said that was not part of an “overarching strategy, it just feels right to us and we employ whatever medium is OK to deliver ideas, whatever fits best.”