Jil Sander: “Fashion should also give us strength for the challenges that lie ahead”

As part of her first ever exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, Jil Sander talks about using minimalism as a trademark, today’s fashion industry and up-and-coming designers with FashionNetwork.com.


Perfume bottles from the Jil Sander brand play an important role at the exhibition - Museum für Angewandte Kunst

FashionNetwork.com: How does it feel to see your work exhibited in a museum for the first time? How was the process of rediscovering your own designs ahead of the exhibition?

Jil Sander: I have never really focused on the past, so there wasn’t a big archive of my designs. Primarily, my work can be seen in campaign photos and catwalk videos. Even though what you see on the catwalk doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual purchase, I have to say that in retrospect, Jil Sander has never been about well-tailored pantsuits for women. The brand was very feminine from the start, with a slight androgynous touch.

FNW: Has the brand’s minimalist and purist identity ever become an impediment?

JS: The Jil Sander purism was soft, with the especially-developed fabrics expressing love and care in their quality and structure. And the cuts and silhouettes, they weren’t minimalist either. If you look at catwalk videos, you can see sculpted, three-dimensional silhouettes and often, surprising proportions which challenge our visual perceptions. Also in the detailing, the seams, the lining and the construction dominated artisanal opulence.

FNW: How has the fashion industry changed in recent years?

JS: Digitalisation has fundamentally changed fashion. The cycles have shrunk to a weekly rhythm. This means that big collections, such as the seasonal lines, are no longer relevant. Additionally, globalisation and its wider consumer base has influenced taste. Vintage fashion, which may seem to us like a step backwards, feels fresh for these consumers. This is also influencing Western fashion.


The Jil Sander exhibition opened on 4 November - Museum für Angewandte Kunst

FNW: You were a professor at the Institute of Design Vienna in 1983-84. What tips would you give today’s emerging fashion designers?

JS: I would advise them to focus on the essential requirements of clothing and get a sense of the zeitgeist without losing sight of the future. Because fashion should also give us strength for the tasks that lie ahead.

Museum für Angewandte Kunst

FNW: Are you keeping up with the Jil Sander brand and have you seen the designs of Luke and Lucie Meier in Milan? What is your opinion on the era of Rodolfo Paglialunga?

JS: I don’t like to judge my fellow designers, but I continue to follow the Jil Sander brand with great interest.

FNW: Are you planning any further projects, like the collaborations you have done with Die Welt and Zeit Magazine?

JS: If the opportunity arises and it’s an interesting project, I wouldn’t say no.


The Jil Sander exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt am Main will be open until 6 May 2018. According to the museum, interest has been high during the first weeks, with long queues and delays in the weekends.

Translated by Barbara Santamaria

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