Dutch designer Sander Lak may have been anointed the next big thing in New York fashion, but he has no intention of holding court. “It’s not about me,” says Lak of his label Sies Marjan, which combines the first names of his mother and father. “I love that people assume Sies is a real person because they don’t know I exist. Creative director as a king on a throne is an old-fashioned idea. It’s about the team.” Lak, whose résumé includes stints at Dries Van Noten, Balmain, and 3.1 Phillip Lim, might be able to revel in anonymity now, but if the buzz his debut collection generated at New York Fashion Week last February is anything to go by, his future lies squarely in the spotlight.
It’s easy to see why editors, buyers, and critics alike flipped for the line. Not only was it a delight to see such luxury and fantasy usually only savored in Paris on the New York runways, the collection was totally wearable. Lak’s silky dresses, oversized blouses, and expertly tailored blazers—in shades of lavender, pale yellow, and mouth-watering tangerine—hit that fashion sweet spot where beauty and practicality overlap. “I’m really inspired by how women wear things in the real world,” says Lak. “At the same time, I love the fantasy of fashion. It’s about finding a balance.” Yes, his oversized proportions are further exaggerated by romantic ruffles and his outerwear billows in sumptuous silks and fur, but they’re met with vibrant knits perfect for pepping up morning errands and pinstripe pieces that will no doubt find their way into boardrooms across the country.
For Lak, inspiration comes from ideas that might seem mundane at first but are, in fact, the seeds of great design: his closet or a best friend’s shopping list. A blouse with a double collar and layered sleeves, for instance, was inspired by Lak’s habit of wearing two, or even three, shirts at once, after he’d tired of all his sweaters. “Inspiration is never one thing,” he says. “It’s everything and nothing. Muses are old-fashioned. I don’t want to pick one person and say you should wear my clothes, because it’s much broader than that.”
Not interested in dictating fashions, Lak considers design an ever-evolving conversation with the world. “Good fashion is very, very personal,” he says. “A painting you hang on your wall, music you listen to and it’s gone, but garments you put on your body—the thing that you are—and drag them with you all day long. It’s a very deep connection.” And at the end of the day, fashion, he says, should make you happy. “I think what we’re doing is a joyous thing.”