German Designer: Jil Sander

Jil Sander has been conquering the fashion world from all dimensions since she graduated from a textile-engineering school in 1963. Sander was born in 1943 in Wesselburen, Germany and studied at Krefeld School of Textiles in the early sixties. After graduating from Krefeld she was a foreign exchange student at the University of California before moving to New York to work as a fashion writer for "McCall's Magazine".

When she was 21, Sander moved back to Germany to help her family after her father unexpectedly passed away. But even in Germany she never stopped working, she worked as a writer for "Constanze and Petra". Then in 1968, with the help of her mothers sewing machine, she founded her own fashion house: Jil Sander. In 1973 she launched a collection under her own brand name but received poor reviews from her first Jil Sander Paris collection show in 1975. Sander increased her company by launching a line of cosmetics and fragrances in 1979.

Despite the fashion communities initial reactions, she kept on designing and creating and her career flourished in the 1980s and 1990s. She received an international following as a result of retailers carrying her lines. Sander's designs were always minimalist with neutral colors that focused on simplicity.

When Prada bought 75% of her company in 1999 Sander remained creative designer and became chairwoman but after a few months she resigned from her position because of disagreements with Prada's CEO. After her departure almost all of her design and production staff followed suit. Sander tried again to work with Prada's CEO a few years later but ultimately the two could not reach an agreement and she left the brand for good.

After leaving her brand behind, Sander ran a successful consulting business and collaborated with the Japanese brand "Uniqlo" on a mass market line called +J. In the meantime, the Jil Sander label was sold to new owners which allowed Sander to return as creative director in February 2012. Once again in 2013, Sander announced that she was leaving the label and has not returned since.

Earlier this year Jil Sander announced that Luke and Lucie Meier will be the new creative directors of the brand. The husband and wife designers will work on both menswear and womenswear for the fashion house. Their fall 2017 collection stayed true to Sander's original concepts and kept their designs minimal and colors limited while also giving a fresh, new take on the line.

Sander was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz by the Federal Republic of Germany for her achievements in the fashion industry and she was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by "The Guardian" in 2013.

Whether its writing for fashion magazines or designing her own line Sander worked hard to put her stamp on the fashion world, it is safe to say that she has succeeded.

By Kristen Catalano

Reflection Magazine