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Backstage at Sies Marjan SS18Photography Lillie Eiger

Sies Marjan will make you want to ditch your all-black look

We speak to designer Sander Lak about the colourful SS18 collection

Sander Lak has one thing on his mind – colour. Since his debut with Sies Marjan, four seasons ago, the young designer has shown a wilder array of tones than anything seen before on the runways of New York, making the label one of the most hotly awaited shows of the week. So often, a monochrome palette is the calling card of the intellectual designer, but Lak’s creations show that one can combine brilliant colour with sartorial exploration. “We always start our collections in an insane way,” he laughs when asked about his inspiration. “It all starts with the colour card.”

And what colours they are. For SS18, Lak has gone with a palette of oranges, pinks and greens in a kind of vibrant, sorbet hue. “We were talking about milkshake,” he says. “If you look at the colours, everything was once bright, but then it’s like we added milk or cream to it. This was once a blueberry, now it’s a blueberry milkshake. The last collection (AW17) was very pop, and like all of these synthetic things, and this is a lot more romantic. Which I’m really happy about!”

Last season, Lak took the show to a grand 80s ballroom, which imbued the collection with a kind of surreal glitz. “(AW17) was very much about artificiality, really the idea of Las Vegas. The American idea of real, and fake.” Coming from Holland, America, or at least the idea of it, has preoccupied the designer since he moved to New York. Obviously, this season he wants to do the opposite to the last. “We thought, why not just show in our office?” This season, Sies Marjan did in fact show in their offices on 26th Street, a kind of return home. “We wanted to make it really sort of a performance, in the sense that we don’t clean anything up, we don’t polish it, in my office, there’s stuff everywhere. It was this idea of transparency.”

“We didn’t want to make vintage clothes but we wanted to make clothes that feel like, even though they’re new, they have had a life” – Sander Lak 

The clothes themselves also have this feeling of honesty, of ease. Menswear inspired shirts and trousers come in washed viscose, giving them a lived in look. A cerise pink shearling coat is thrown over a slip dress. Jersey dresses are twisted, falling off the body in waves. Patent leather coats come in a beautiful mauve, and also black (the first time he’s, in fact, worked with the colour). “We didn’t want to make vintage clothes,” he explains, “But we wanted to make clothes that feel like, even though they’re new, they have had a life.” Following on from last season’s much obsessed-over shoes, he’s designed a chunky heel that melds a 70s sensibility with sport-inspired Velcro or laces, a counterpoint to the more delicate pieces in the collection.

For the first time, Lak’s also showing men’s. It’s only four looks, in similarly brilliant tones, but satisfy, for now, the demand for a  Sies Marjan men’s show. When we meet, Lak’s serving as a brilliant model for his own designs, wearing a loose blue velvet suit. It’s this personal relationship with the clothes that lies at the heart of what he does – there’s no muse, just Lak’s ideas about what he and his friends (and staff) might like to wear. Of course, his diverse and distinctive casting serves as a reference for the woman he imagines, but Lak’s more excited about seeing his work on the street. “I love it here in the office when somebody wears it,” he smiles. “There’s a woman who, when she started was only wearing black. Now she’s in a full pink outfit and red shoes, and really owning it. I think that’s great.”