There was a strong sense of deja-vu when it was announced last week that designer Jil Sander is leaving her eponymous label for not just the second, but the third time.
The merry-go-round of Sander’s tenure has been well-documented, since she sold the majority of the company to Prada in 1999, initially staying on as creative director but leaving shortly afterwards after reported disagreements with Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli.
Sander returned to the label briefly in 2003, but once again her relationship with Bettelli turned sour and Sander resigned once more in 2004.
Then along came Raf Simons at the helm, where he stayed until he left for Dior in 2012, which was a cue for Sander to be re-instated once more.
This time the 70 year old designer has cited personal reasons for leaving her next collection in the hands of the label’s in-house design team.
The drama of the ‘she’s back, she’s gone again’ saga of Sander has certainly kept the label in the headlines, but what next for the brand if it’s left under the guidance of a group, rather than an individual?
The label has thrived in recent years under the unique mark of Raf Simons, and then again under Sander, and the ‘signature’ element so often discussed when it comes to runway collections is too important to ignore. We live in the age of the celebrity designer, looking for their personal influence when it comes to their latest ranges.
What be made of a collection designed by an unknown team? Perhaps Sander will be back by then. Perhaps she will have left again.
Time will tell how well the next collection will be received, but the label undoubtedly needs another figurehead to hone a direction for the brand. In this day and age, a clear-cut creative vision is essential, and that comes from an individual, not a group.