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Thursday, August 13, 2009

+J Walking

At long last, Japanese retailer Uniqlo has confirmed the launch date for its much-anticipated collaboration with minimalist pioneer Jil Sander. The +J collection will hit New York's Soho flagship October 1, a full range of men's and women's tailored classics, including outerwear, denim, knits and accessories.

If the just-released campaign images are any indication, Jil’s first fast-fashion foray hasn't compromised any of her design aesthetic. Pieces like a belted wool coat for women or a three-quarter light coat for men are finished with surgical precision, ensuring that Sander's signature austerity remains intact—even though, with prices ranging from $29.50 to $149.50, it'll be tough to maintain any sort of zen on opening day.

—Franklin Melendez

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Creature Feature

From our photographer friends Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader comes this classic girl-meets-monster, girl-runs-from-monster, girl-falls-in-love-with-monster, girl-rescues-monster story. Or something like that. Plus, it's animated, so be sure to click Play...

photography Reed + Rader
styling Nikki Igol
make-up Stella Kae for MAKE UP FOR EVER
hair Nelson Vercher @ de facto
model Alexandra Agoston-O'Connor @ NEXT
photo assist Layla Wrencher, Gemma Fleming
styling assist Christina Drummond

faux fur coat Sans, shirt American Apparel, hosiery Jonathan Aston, shoes Jil Sander

coat Dolce & Gabbana, pants Dries Van Noten, shoes Jil Sander

faux fur jumpsuit Sans


dress & cape AF Vandevorst

coat & dress Wunderkind, shoes Jil Sander

cape & pants Matohu, shoes Jil Sander

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Raf Simons

Ah, Raf, if only your show had begun really late. Instead I found myself on the other side of a firmly closed door just after it began, with the haunting piano from Eyes Wide Shut (Dominic Harlan's Musica Ricercata N°2) wafting over the garden wall. Why was I late? Just before, John Galliano had held Napoleonic court at the derelect Piscine Molitor in a sleepy neighborhood on the other side of town and there were no taxis afterward. That meant a harrowing, sweaty, doomed metro trip and, between shows the next day, a trek to Simons' showroom deep in the heart of the 9th arrondissement to finally ogle his wares.

First of all, suck it in because you will need a waistline to wear Simons' new suits, which come with their own wide, webbed belts, or feature incorporated leather belts (some with snakehead buckles) that twist around the torso like, well, a snake. Some jackets have a layer of satin lining fabric over the sleeves, which you can roll like, well, a snake. After browsing through the racks in the showroom, it became apparent that Simons has been struck with a slithery reptilian obsession.

The tailoring has body, thanks to high-tech constructions like a rough-edged overcoat—look ma, no hems!—in thin cotton fused with polyurethane. Imagine a filmy, slightly rubbery handkerchief. The raw-edged sweatshirts in Japanese jersey (currently Simons' favorite material, I'm told) are bonded, which stiffens them to give the wearer a chest he may or may not actually possess. The best one is in dusty pink like a blush.

The style, at times, is downright Cavalliesque, with white canvas jeans in a coiling snake print. Only, the canvas is workwear thick with industrial zipper pockets and the cut is square—so it's really Belgian, not Neapolitan. Simons appears to be toying with menswear's smarmy side. His stint in Milan as creative director for Jil Sander, and the Italian production for his own brand, has opened the door onto a world that makes the sincerely boyish clothes of his early days seem like a lifetime ago.

—Rebecca Voight

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Hint Tip: Jil Sander for Aloha Rag

Under the direction of Raf Simons for Jil Sander come two men's sneakers created exclusively for Aloha Rag's New York location (505 Greenwich). The label's first store collaboration is limited to 55 pairs each of low-tops ($325) and high-tops ($395). Public launch is April 2, VIP pre-shop party is April 1, 6-8 pm...

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Hooked: Jil Sander

Leave it to Raf Simons to transform the lowly utility belt—usually reserved for portly repairmen and outdoorsy lesbians—into spring's most daring accessory. But not quite a utility belt, and not quite a purse, fanny pack or holster, the inventive hybrid is made up of three various detachable compartments that give order to all those loose ends crammed untidily into your clutch or pocket: iPhone, concealer and credit card. Of course, in Raf’s expert hands the utilitarian goes full-on luxe with supple calfskin in shocking red, yellow and blue, as well as the more minimal-friendly black and white. $965 at Jil Sander boutiques worldwide.

—Franklin Melendez

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Raf Housing

Jil Sander heads downtown, and Haidee Findlay-Levin was there...

Before long you'll be hearing the names Jil and Howard thrown together like some sordid tabloid tale. Of course I'm referring to Jil of Jil Sander, whose slick downtown outpost launched last week on Howard Street. A block from Opening Ceremony and a stone's throw from the New Museum, this corner (at Crosby) is my favorite part of Manhattan. Every morning I walk to yoga along these streets, safely away from Canal Street mayhem and the overcrowded sidewalks of Soho, aka Slowho.

Entering the store for the launch, however, I felt completely removed from its location and context. The white-marbled space is split between a kind of exhibit area on street level—with a row of Grecian-like mannequins dressed in equally sculptural dresses—and the floor above, with more familiar racks and dressing rooms. The bilevel set-up allows customers to first absorb themselves in the world of Jil Sander, to ponder construction and contemplate design. In the back of the store, a wall of oversized, mirrored vertical blinds was opening and closing, alternating between reflections of the store's white walls and the fashion crowd's dark palette. Occasionally it would catch a bright color, like publicist Sylvie Picquet-Damesme from PR Consulting, who was wearing one of this season's Jil dresses in a fantastic shock-pink.

The art references don’t stop at the first floor. You then ascend a marble staircase to the second floor, complete with marble banister, where Jil Sander's creative director Raf Simons has collaborated with artist Germaine Kruip to create unusual fitting rooms with sides that close to form a four-sided, mirrored experience. That’s a lot of personal information to take in a state of undress. Personally, I'm quite happy being oblivious to my back side!

Julie Gilhart & Raf Simons, Germaine Kruip & Sylvie-Plicquet-Damesme, Ingrid Sischy & Sandy Brandt

Now, we've long known Jil Sander stands for impeccable quality and refinement, and we collectively exhaled a sigh of relief when Raf Simons took the helm (let's just pretend it was a short blip between Jil's departure and Raf's appearance), so I was very happy to see and speak to Raf himself, who I have known for years. We originally met in Paris when I was sourcing young designers for an Italian leatherwear project, Ruffo Research, for which I was creative director. In a smoky bistro, we talked art and fashion with his then girlfriend and budding designer Véronique Branquinho. Neither had worked outside of Antwerp until I proposed they collaborate with Ruffo (Raf on men's and Véronique on women's), which resulted in two definitive collections. It was the only collaboration they ever did together, and it preceded the idea of pairing designers with bigger brands—in this case, two in one.

Raf is a lot more on his plate these days, of course, but he told me he's figured out a way to focus on Jil while staying committed to his signature line (soon to have its own stores in Tokyo and Osaka). He does so by alternating weeks: one week in Milan, followed by a week in Antwerp and so on—with weekends spent in Antwerp. He said it's an easy commute, though it reminded me of a traveling man with a lover at each stop. Naturally I asked him if this was the case. "Absolutely not!" he replied, adamant that his schedule left no time for a relationship—besides those he already has with his two lines.

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