Jil Sander is a minimalist German
fashion designer. Her work descends from that of Coco Chanel, as opposed to the bleeding-edge esthetic of Lagerfeldand Gaultier or the trendiness of sportswear design, as exemplified by the like of Giorgio Armaniand Calvin Klein.
Her trademark look, a somewhat
New Lookfor women conquering executive positions in the 1980s, was that of a cut pantsuit, a form-fitting coat or a slim blousemade of materials in plain grey, black, blue or white. The fact that her creations were coordinates which could all be easily combined with each other became a popular characteristic. She created the so-called "onion look" (Zwiebel-Look) layering various pieces of clothingin one outfit. She has been described as the "Queen of Less", "Cashmere-Queen", "Master of Minimalism", "Cool Blonde", "Gentle-Jil" or "Fashion Reductionist".
Jil Sander, born Heidemarie Jiline Sander in
Wesselburennear Hamburg, Germany, on 27 November 1943, grew up with her mother near Hamburg and later studied textile design in Krefeldfrom where she graduated as a textileengineer in 1963. Having spent two years as an exchange student at University College in Los Angeles, she worked as a fashion editor at German women's magazine "Petra" before opening her first boutiquein a Hamburg suburb in 1967. She started out selling fashion designed by Thierry Mugleror Sonia Rykieland also a few of her own designs. And, with few ups and downs, she founded her eponymous fashion house, Jil Sander GmbH in 1968, at the age of 24.
Showing her collection in
Parisin 1975 proved a complete failure, though. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the fashion world was dominated by lavish, colorful and glitzy Dynasty-style designs by the likes of Claude Montanawith his broad-shouldered leather look, Jil Sander's minimalist collections, with a focus on fabric quality came close to a revolution in the fashion world and were not accepted next to the Parisian catwalks. Her style only started gaining attention in the 1990s.
uccess and expansion
In the years after
1978she revolutionized the industry by marketing her first perfumewith a campaign that prominently featured her own face. The internationally successful cooperation with "Lancaster Cosmetics" allowed her financially to run ads in glamorous magazines on a large scale for her fashion. Later, licenses would be given for eyewear and leatheraccessory lines. In 1985, it was decided that her collections would be shown in Milanto more efficiently tackle the international markets. As a result, sales were steadily increasing. More fragrances were added to the cosmetics line, and the label's luxurious minimalism proved to be the hit of the mid to late 90's.
Jil Sander AG went public in 1989 and was sold to shareholders on the
Frankfurt stock exchange. Jil's fashion house was among the first to venture on such a step. She used the new capitalto expand in Asiaand North America. Her tremendous success overseas resulted in palatial flagship stores in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipeiamong many others, whose interior furnishings gobbled up millions. Ms. Sander personally overlooked the designof her stores and strict guidelines were implemented for the sales staff on how to behave and where to stand in the boutiques. At the Paris store, opened in 1993, the Jil Sander collections could be shown on more than 9000 square feet and four floors. The space at Avenue Montaigne in Paris used to be French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet's atelier and showroom, a designer whose work has influenced Sander's. In 1998 Jil Sander and German sportswear house Puma jointly launched a successful sneakers collection.
Jil Sander's success continued into the mid-1990s. Her company survived the economic crisis in Asia. She found success with a newly launched men’s collection that had been postponed several times before in 1997 and was described as "precision-cut with an emphasis upon light fabrics." A desire with Ms. Sander to concentrate more on the creative design rather than the business, resulted in much praise and acclaim from the critics. Nevertheless, Jil needed a financially strong partner realizing that her company was steadily growning. Jil Sander AG was no longer a small privately owned business.
In 1999 Prada Group bought a 75% share in her company. Ms. Sander, remained creative designer and became
chairwomanin the new joint venture. Six months later, in January 2000, Ms. Sander unexpectedly left after confrontations with Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, a quick-tempered Italian businessman. She, an uncompromising perfectionist, refused in using cheaper materials and at bringing the traditionally slim fits in line with standard sizes. Mr. Bertelli had demanded of Jil, some very drastic cost cuts and a more affordable mainstream approach. Bertelli also insisted on giving up the contributary workshops in Germany in favor of the shops in Italy owned by Prada. Thus, for the first time in many years, Ms. Sander was able to indulge in extensive travelling, sailing, going to the opera and taking care of her gardens after her resignationbut the fashion house floundered without Sander.
Comeback and abandonment
Sander returned to the company as head designer and partner in a surprise decision in May 2003, after her
noncompete clausehad expired. Bertelli had reportedly begged her to come back.Fact|date=June 2008 Her return was celebrated unanimously by the international press. Sander's designs, bearing the Jil Sander signature with a more feminine look, were a hit with both customers and critics. Designing two collections which were both showcased in Milan, Sander altered Vukmirovic’s existing sketches for the men’s collection, redesigned some of the boutiquesand audited the books herself.
However, in November 2004, Ms. Sander agreed to terminate cooperation with Prada and
resignedfrom her post again after insurmountable differences with Mr. Bertelli.
Since 2005, the line has been designed by Raf Simons.
In September 2008, the Jil Sander brand was purchased by Onward, a Japanese corporation.
*New York- 1042 Madison Avenue (Opened 2007)
*New York (SoHo)- 30 Howard Street (Opening Spring, 2008)
*Manhasset- Americana Manhasset
*Chicago- 48 E. Oak Street (Opened 1994)
*Paris- 56 Avenue Montaigne (Opened 1993; extensively renovated 2007)
*London- 7 Burlington Gardens (Closed 2005- new location planned)
*Ms. Sander was awarded the
Bundesverdienstkreuz, the German equivalent of the Order of Merit, by the Federal Republic of Germany for her achievements in the fashion industry.
*Ms. Sander was known for both her shy appearances in public and her power mania trying to bring everything under her control behind the scenes. She would rarely give interviews and not talk about her private life, a trait that only cultivated the myth about her person, and at the same time she would buy the rights to pictures about her in order to be able to control her public image and meticulously plan all the steps in her company where she was used to being the boss.
*For her notorious (and sometimes ridiculous) habit of mixing German and English words into gibberish sentences when being interviewed in German in the 1990s she was awarded the title of "Sprachpanscher" ( Sprache = language, panschen = to adulterate) by the "Association of German Language" (Verein Deutsche Sprache) in 1997.
*Ms. Sander currently resides at her estate in Hamburg where she also maintains a city office. She is also said to have bought an apartment in Berlin-Willmersdorf and supposedly spends most of her free time on her favorite leisure pursuit, gardening. She lives with her longtime companion Dickie Mommsen.
*In May 2006, a 33-year old female stalker from
Bochumthat had threatened to kill Ms. Sander and her companion for almost five years over the phone and in writing was sentenced by a German court to 15 months in jail, although there was no anti-stalking lawin Germanyat the time and the prosecutionhad thus only claimed a suspended sentenceof six months. The convict, who labored under the delusionto have fallen in love with Jil Sander, was deemed a danger to the public and will be admitted to a psychiatric ward. Ms. Sander herself did not appear in court.
Pictures of Jil Sander
* [http://www.pdngallery.com/20years/fashion/10_nick_knight.html Jil Sander in withe, 1991]
* [http://www.autogramme.us/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=1123 autogrammcard with signing]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/19/style/tmagazine/MAN10.html?pagewanted=all&position= Jil Sander, 2004, with male models, a little down portrait of Jil (Francois Berthoud)]
* [http://media.douglas.de/img/brands/jsander/home/jsander.jpgIconic Photograph of Ms. Sander (once used in a perfume media campaign)]
* [http://slate.msn.com/id/2089572/ Exile's Return] Slate, Oct. 13, 2003
* [http://www.time.com/time/style/article/0,9171,1113030909-482992,00.html 10 Questions: Jil Sander] Time, September 9, 2003
* [http://www.infomat.com/whoswho/jilsander.html Infomat Who's Who: Jil Sander] (last update: 1997)
* [http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000006&sid=abALgaDj8rVQ&refer=home Bloomberg: Prada Sells Jil Sander] February 23, 2006
* [http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article347410.ece The Independent: Vandevelde snaps up Jil Sander for £68m] February 24, 2006
* [http://www.jilsander.com/ Jil Sander (company) official website]
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