Her real name is Heidemarie Jiline Sander, and she was born in 1943 in Wesselburen, Germany. Jil Sander is a fashion designer known for minimalist designs and her perfume line.
Her father was in the German army fighting on the Russian front, her mother had fled from the bombing in Hamburg.
She studied textile design at Krefeld School of Textiles (class of 1963) in Germany, before spending a year as an exchange student at the University of Los Angeles, California in 1963-4. She then became a journalist for McCalls magazine in the US, and German women's magazines before turning to freelance clothing design.
In 1968, she opened her own boutique in Hamburg, Germany.
In 1973, at the age of 24, she founded her eponymous fashion house. And showing her first collection in 1974. She also has boutiques in Paris, London, New York and many other major cities.
In 1989, her company went on the Stock exchange as a public limited company. In 1999 Prada Group bought a 75% share in her company. Six months later, she left after confrontations with Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli. The house, not surprisingly, faltered without the designer who defined it.
Milan Vukmirovic, formerly of Colette boutique in Paris, and a very brief stint with Gucci, was appointed chief designer. He has not been very successful in continuing Jil Sander's vision and the garments are disappointing. The design team headed by Vukmirovic emphasised commercially viable sportswear. The Spring/Summer 2003 collection shown in Milan in September 2002 was only sporty clothing. Vukmirovic showed the Sander house Fall collection during Milan Fashion Week in March 2003. It was not a very inspiring show. He showed kilts in tiers of pleats and asymmetric skirts or extended into dresses. One white shirt had embroidered wings on the back. He also showed T-shirts with "wild heart" or "sweet angel" on them.
Prada had to inject a considerable amount of cash in early 2003 to keep Jil Sander going, amid rumours of mounting losses. There was a lot of speculation about selling the house and Jil Sander returning to the house she founded. There was some talk of her meeting with executives of Hugo Boss who might buy her company from Prada.
At the end of May 2003, Jil came back as Designer for the house she had founded, with full control. She was also made a member of Prada board of Directors. It had become clear to the whole world, that money alone did not ensure success in the fashion world. Everyone recognized that the soul of a brand resides in one artistic individual.
In November 2004, it was announced that Jil Sander is again leaving her company because of differences with Prada. This time it appears to be permanent.
In May 2005, the house announced that Raf Simons would be the new creative director from July 1st 2005, for womens and menswear collections. His first collection for Jil Sander was for Autumn/Winter 2006 in Milan.
She perceived a need for understated clothes with a sense of quiet inner self-confidence, but which would provide the wearer with the ultimate in fit, quality and modernity. Her minimalist style gained popularity on the international market. She combined the simplicity of male garments with a feminine sense of luxurious fabrics. Her clothes were a byword for a ultra-modern, sensuality that was technical as well as beautiful. Jil Sander also experimented with new materials such as silver-laminated linen, which she felt to be much more subtle than straightforward silver. Her minimalist trademarks include striking silhouettes, high-end fabrics, and meticulous detail, emphasizing quality over flash. Her work descends from that of Coco Chanel, as opposed to the bleeding-edge esthetic of Lagerfeld and Gaultier or the readiness of sportswear design, as exemplified by the like of Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein.
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