Heidemarie Jiline ‘Jil’ Sander (born 27 November 1943) is a minimalist German fashion designer and the founder of the Jil Sander fashion house.
Sander’s trademark look, a contemporary, somewhat odd, New Look – originally intended for women conquering executive positions in the 1980s – was that of a precisely cut pantsuit, a slim blouse and a form-fitting coat made of luxurious fabrics in plain grey, beige, blue, black or white. Jil Sander enjoyed almost cult-like followings for her fashions that could all be easily coordinated and have always ranged in the top price segment. Sander has been described as the Queen of Less.
Sander’s eponymous fashion label still exists today but has been carried on without her involvement since 2004. In early 2009, Sander, after years of absence from the world of fashion, announced the creation of her own fashion consultancy, and her employment by Uniqlo of Japan.
Since 1978, Sander marketed her first perfume prominently featuring her countenance. The owner of Lancaster Cosmetics allowed her financially to run ads in glamorous magazines on a large scale for her fashion. The fact that her creations were coordinates which could all be easily combined with each other became a popular characteristic. Sander created the so-called onion look (German: ‘Zwiebel-Look’) layering various pieces of clothing in one outfit. Later, licenses would be given for eyewear and leather accessory lines. In the 1980s, Sander’s collections were first shown in Milan to tackle the international markets more efficiently. As a result, sales were steadily increasing. More fragrances were added to the cosmetics line. The label’s luxurious minimalism was a hit in the later 1990s.
In 1999 Prada Group bought a 75% share in her company. Sander remained creative designer and became chairwoman in the new joint venture.