Sies Marjan is Sander Lak’s new label. One of his best friends Cynthia Scholten writes about our next Label to Watch
Starting a new fashion label is anything but easy, and as a rule it takes at least a few seasons before you can chalk up international success. But with Sies Marjan, it was different. When the label, headed by Creative Director Sander Lak, made its spectacular debut at New York Fashion Week in mid-February 2016, fashion greats like Anna Wintour, Cathy Horyn, and Nicole Phelps were in the front row.
I remember the moment exactly, just before the start of the show. It suddenly got very quiet in Ralph Walker Tribeca and someone whispered to me: “Anna is coming!” Normally, as it was explained to me, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue almost never comes to debut fashion shows. An accolade for Sander Lak – and with the first show, at that.
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Since then, Sander Lak has already brought out his second collection (for Spring/Summer 2017) – and with it, he’s driving the success story of his label Sies Marjan ever further ahead. Born in Borneo, Sander grew up in Gabun and then spent the most part of his youth in the Netherlands. After graduating with a master’s degree in menswear design from the legendary Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, he worked for Phillip Lim, Balmain, and then for four years at Dries Van Noten, finishing his time there as Head of Design.
The debut collection of Sies Marjan – the name of the label, by the way, is a combination of his parent’s first names – is receiving the best of reviews. Beyoncé has already worn it and renowned shops like Barneys New York and Matchesfashion.com are selling it.
Above all, Sies Marjan stands for bright colors – the so-called “acid yellow”, for example. Of particular note in the first as well as the second collection: neither contain a single solid black garment. The striking colors of the first season were replaced by soft pastels in the second, yet the “acid yellow” remains. The cuts in the first collection were already amazing, but they appear even more artful in this Spring/Summer collection. Crossing over the chest and shoulders, the fabrics achieve an almost painterly effect around the body.
The cutting techniques he uses come, in part, from haute couture – like the so-called “twisting” technique, in which elaborate elements are supplemented by simple ones, lending the individual pieces a surprising harmony and effortlessness. Also when it comes to the fabrics, Sies Marjan doesn’t opt for the usual choices (aside from the quality, of course). My personal favorite from the Spring/Summer collection is the elfishly shimmering “plastic velvet,” one of the innovative materials by Sies Marjan.
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Sander and I have been close friends for 10 years – because of that, I’ve been able to share many of his working processes. During the preparations for the Sies Marjan Autumn/Winter collection, for example, Sander asked me every morning for a few weeks to take a selfie after waking up and then send it to him. Six months later I found myself again in his studio, printed out and on one of his many mood boards.
While he’s working on his collections, Sander often thinks about how one of his female friends would wear this piece or another. Aside from his team – which, among others, “it” stylist Lotta Volkova (who also works with Vetements, for example) is part of – his “girlfriends” also play a role in the design process. Nevertheless, I was a little surprised when Sander told me that he wanted us (Megan, Nur, Patty, Trish, and myself) to be in a campaign shot by his friend and photographer Kacper Kasprzyk. The Girlfriends Project was born.
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The Girlfriends Project No. 2 is now finished in time for the second season. This new campaign by Sies Marjan can be seen on German Vogue’s online platform – now with one of Sander’s favorite photographers, Brite Nigel Shafran, behind the camera. Friends are still involved in the project: Sander’s good friend Ken, who he got to know eight years ago in Paris at Balmain, is one of the models and our mutual friend Megan Bowman Gray, who was in front of the camera for the first project, took over the styling. The result: stunningly beautiful photos of a stunningly beautiful collection. And as Sander has assured me: There will be many more Girlfriends Projects to come.
See Veronika’s personal Sies Marjan Look:
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