Sies Marjan's Master of Shade
By Britt Burritt
To choose a new palette for your fashion canvas this season, look to Sies Marjan, the buzzy New York label embraced by Beyoncé, Zoë Kravitz, Veronika Heilbrunner and Caroline de Maigret. Sander Lak, the brand's creative director, knows hues—an infinite number of them. His fall 2018 collection seems to contain every shade in the Louvre's holdings: celery, jade green, burnt sienna, dusty rose, cerise, periwinkle, ultramarine. And Sies Marjan's lushly serene runway styling by Marie Chaix has certainly helped take chromatic dressing mainstream. With a paint kit this pretty, why not mix pigments?
Lak's ability to identify lovely tones has garnered him authority as a colorist—and a fashion reputation that's almost preceded him. Sies Marjan is only two years old, but its debut show attracted luminaries like Anna Wintour and Cathy Horyn. This year, Lak won the award for emerging talent at the CFDA Fashion Awards, an event that he remembers most fondly for putting him in Oprah Winfrey's path. Meeting her "was the highlight of the evening for me," he told us.
The label's name, Sies Marjan, is a combination of Lak's parents' names. "I have two brothers. My dad (Sies) passed away when I was young and my mom (Marjan) met my stepdad when we moved to Holland. He also has three children, so we became one big family." Lak's clan moved a lot, to disparate places like Malaysia, Gabon, Scotland and Holland. He studied fashion at Central Saint Martins in London, and has worked in Paris, London and New York. "I think it's definitely influenced the way I design," he reflects. "It's more about this extremely wide worldview that I was raised with, this exposure to all the different things that go on all around the world. It's something I think about all the time."
This worldliness appears subtly in the form of Lak's concentrated confidence. Even with the first collection, the 35-year-old's fashion perspective was lucid. Sies Marjan starts with emotional color combinations that find expression through sophisticated silhouettes and sculpted fabrics. "We look at each color and really think about what kind of garment would make it even more appealing," Lak says. From there, he trusts his intuition. "Sometimes you just end up doing things and you don't know why, but you know it feels right." This instinct for color and shape resulted in the revival of pinwheel-like pleating for spring and fall 2018. "Sunray pleating is an old-school couture technique that found its way into cheap clothes and lost its allure for a bit," Lak explains. "But that was what made it very interesting to me."
His colors also come out of a personal inclination. "When designing this collection, I was feeling quite moody and intense due to what was going on in my private life," he shares, "and that definitely played into the colors I was drawn to. I wanted the intensity and aggression of the crimson red, but wanted to soften it by doing a dégradé as well."
Lak's own clothing predilections also play a role in what he constructs each season. "I do make a lot of pieces for myself using the same colors, fabrics and silhouettes," he admits. "On an average day, I tend to wear a uniform: our Sander shirt (aptly named), an undershirt, and trousers. The men's collection actually stemmed from pieces that I was already making for myself, so it's a natural extension of what we're already doing for the women's collections."
We look forward to seeing everything that Sander Lak wants to wear.