NEW YORK, United States — There is something so delightfully unselfconscious about Sies Marjan designer Sander Lak. Really, he does not seem to care what other people think. His references are funny — the Baskin Robbins logo colours, 1990s Versace, Victoria’s Secret runway show looks — but he’s aiming to utilise them in a sincere way. “I am rejecting irony,” he says. “I find this idea of bad taste very old and irrelevant. I was working more... to not treat things that are not up to my snobby taste level with irony or sarcasm.”
In other words, he’s leaning into inclinations he may know aren’t quite “right”. Instead of overtly acknowledging these things — like self-aware designers who make “ugly pretty” clothes tend to do — he is simply embracing them. A wonky sense of colour — Smurf blue, Dunkin Donuts pink, Champagne gold — is what hits you first, especially done up in blue satin shirting or a long-sleeve gown made out of a chenille jersey. The accoutrements — scrunched-up ruching, zippers, scarf hems — are the sorts of details that could cause a gag reflex if not executed properly.
Luckily for Lak, and his growing customer base, that’s not a problem. He isn’t by any means yet a master, but he’s too interesting not to keep watching. (Especially if he continues to choose freaky venues like today’s New York Hilton, where he showed in a stuffy, yet oddly beautiful, ballroom painted an icy blue.) His stream of aggressive, but never harsh, separates — mauve satin flyaway trousers, teal metallic leather biker pants, a peach satin mullet skirt, a twist-front mint jumper inspired by Ralph Lauren’s classic cable knit — will appeal to those looking to cultivate a genuine style.
Sies Marjan made a big splash two seasons ago, and has maintained a good amount of buzz. It may never “hit” in the way upstart labels used to; the world has changed. But that might be a good thing, as labels that rise too fast seem to crash harder than ever these days. What Lak is doing is building. This season, the collection’s shoes, beloved by editors from day one, will finally be made available to retailers. Here’s hoping they sell. A pair of seafoam croc-embossed loafer slingback platforms with an exaggerated flared heel would sure look fetching on a shop floor.