#SuzyNYFW: Sies Marjan – Exquisite And Artistic
I’m bored by themes and decades – we really choose a colour card and that’s our starting point, where we go,” said Sander Lak, whose Sies Marjan show was held in the heart of the company’s atelier.
“My design team has the difficult task of showing me 500,000 images, no matter what the theme is – just for the choice of the colour,” the Dutch designer continued. “Before we have any kind of clothes, we have a colour card and that’s where we really start figuring out what kind of fabrics we want to make with it. “Obviously, colour is abstract. So when we have all of these colours, it’s about texture and fabrication.”
The end product of Sander Lak’s explorations in colour – delicate pink, bright orange, jade green, dappled blue, lilac, turquoise and so many more – was intensified by the set. The designer took his bow in front of shelves of fabric rolls that offered materials as varied in shades as the designs of the clothes were simple. He explained how colour rules over texture and over shapes, which were simple cascades over the body, perhaps just with a hitch of stitches to gather the fabric at the front.
The fact that the atelier was originally created by the designer and artist Ralph Rucci and contains his enormous library of books, adds to a sense that the show has the spirit of haute couture running through it.
But the storyline at Sies Marjan and its sense of enchantment is really based not on shaping but on the use of colour and, to a lesser extent, texture. The designer uses 35 to 40 different fabrics, sometimes combining several in one outfit. But at the heart of his work is an obsession with colour.
“After I pick the shades, we go further and deeper into a scale of colour cards that we like and then we end up with roughly 50 colours,” Sander Lak said. “We scale that down to 40, and once we are down to 20 we feel like, okay this is where we should go. And then, of course, it goes a little bit smaller still. But that’s a really long process. So when other designers are in museums trying to figure out the theme of their collections, we’re in here with colour swatches – that is how we work.”
With a background of working with Christophe Decarnin at Balmain and five years with Dries Van Noten, Sander Lak has developed a style of designing that is about drape and what he describes as ‘pick up’, meaning gathering a knot of feather-light material to create a slightly off-kilter silhouette.
Although the technique works well at first glance, the effect would be stronger if Lak developed traditional bias cutting so the fabric would slither over curves. His designs for men often looked more convincing than the female side.
“I always did menswear because I related it to myself – so when I feel fabric, I don’t necessarily think about the version for a woman, I think about myself: Would I wear this? Is this comfortable? I don’t want to feel my clothes; I don’t want to be restricted by them,” the designer explained. “I think that’s something you really see in the clothes and that’s why we’re doing really well in the stores. Women see an interesting colour and they touch it and ‘Oooh, this is nice!’”
That visceral feeling of desire is what turns fashion dreams into business reality. And one member of the audience had been convinced already. The actress Isabella Rossellini, wearing a rich orange top, was surprised at her own daring. “I never wear colour – I always wear black because it is so easy, but this is a colour that looks great with black,” she explained – before admitting that her real reason for watching the show was to see her son modelling. Roberto wore what looked like a pair of fancy pyjamas – but oh! they were so charming.