What’s the proof of a happy marriage? For Luke and Lucie Meier, the husband-and-wife design duo at the helm of the Jil Sander brand, it’s that they still want to have coffee together before it’s time to go to work. This week, just one day before their spring 2019 fashion show, the pair left their Milan apartment and crossed the street to the elegantly antique Marchesi pastry shop (founding date: 1824) for a caffè macchiato each, and a fresh grapefruit juice for Lucie. “This is how we start every day,” says Luke.
The Meiers took over Jil Sander in April of last year, becoming the first couple appointed to the creative direction of a major fashion brand. Initially, the house approached Luke, a Vancouver native who made his career as the longtime head designer at Supreme, and then as the co-founder of OAMC, the cult luxury streetwear line. “My first thought was, ‘I’m not doing that just me — it wouldn’t make sense,’” Luke says. “It’s closer to Lucie’s world.” Lucie, who grew up in the small Swiss town of Zermatt, has a background in women’s wear: She has worked at Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and, most famously, Dior, where she designed both ready-to-wear and couture before Maria Grazia Chiuri arrived in 2016.
The two had always hoped to work together, and so they created a project proposal, including a selection of designs and an outline of their vision for Jil Sander. They wanted to bring back the “emotion and the soul of the brand,” as Lucie describes it. “My mother was a fan and collected Jil Sander when I was a child, and I had this emotional attachment that I didn’t feel anymore,” she says. “Jil Sander was about being relevant and modern in her time,” Lucie continues. “We’re doing something relevant and modern for today.” Luke adds: “It’s very personal. What’s relevant and modern? The easiest gauge is whatever we like, whatever we think is cool.” Part of their design process involves trying on the garments to “see if we feel something when we look in the mirror,” says Lucie.
Breakfast finished, the pair walk to the Jil Sander office, a few blocks away. In the stark, white-walled studio, runway outfits hang on a square brass rail, handwritten numbers indicating their show order — No. 5 is a cornflower-colored wide-cut shirt with jutting cuffs and a densely pleated skirt made for motion; No. 20, a desert-toned cocoon of a windbreaker. The clothes the Meiers create are distinct from the flawlessly crisp designs of classic Jil Sander. (The brand’s eponymous founder departed in 2013.) The pair layer in decoration, complication and the warmth of handcrafted work. “It’s industrialization that kills everything,” says Lucie.
By LAURA RYSMAN