Jil Sander's Fashion Evolution
Heidemarie Jiline Sander better known as Jil Sander, is the German designer who incorporates the minimalist ideal into elegant work wear, launched her first collection in 1973. Not hitherto not a market associated with the catwalk, her formula of trouser suits, perfectly cut white shirts and unembellished knits in a monochrome palette and the most luxurious fabrics have become a fashion tradition and inspired a hugely loyal clientele.
Away from the catwalk, Sander has a reputation for perfectionism - even describing herself as a 'stubborn character' she is said to have micro-managed every element of her business, down to the position that staff had to adopt in the boutiques. Similar to her minimalist counterpart in the USA, Calvin Klein, this controlling approach yielded remarkable financial results plus rapid expansion of the company into fragrance and cosmetics in 1979 as well as menswear in 1997.
In 2000, Sander sold the business to luxury fashion house Prada, in the hope of further expanding the product ranges while remaining at the helm in a design capacity. Another consequence of Sander's strong character proved to be this inabilty to be managed by Patrizio
Bertelli, the head of the company and left, firstly in the same year, then returning for 3 years before leaving once again, this time to be replaced by Belgian menswear guru Raf Simons. Despite being self-taught and at the time, having no womenswear experience Simons was widely praised for satisfying Sander's core customer while gently pushing a fashion evolution with increasing design twists appearing on the collections.
In 2012 the tale took on several rapid twists. Autumn Winter 2012 at Milan fashion week was announced to be Raf's last season at the brand he had so successfully both represented and evolved. It later transpired that founding designer, Jil herself was to make a return to the brand after several years working exclusively for Japanese retail giant Uniqlo. The fashion world gasped - but the final move on the fashion industry chessboard was a greater coup than ever; Raf Simons was named as John Galliano's successor at highly prestigious French heritage brand, Christian Dior. Ooh la la!