Sander and Bertelli: Together Once Again and Ready to Grow

Jil Sander, who made amends with former sparring partner, Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli appears to have attained an almost zenlike sense of calm.

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Jil Sander

Photo By Marco Beck Peccoz

Patrizio Bertelli

Photo By WWD Staff

MILAN — She’s back, she’s refreshed and she’s ready to get to work. She also once again owns part of her business.

Jil Sander — who surprised and pleased the industry earlier this week by making amends with former sparring partner, Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli, and returning to the fashion house she founded — appears to have attained an almost zenlike sense of calm. She said her three-year hiatus has served her well.

“After I stepped back, I was really…finding another life. I did a lot of things I never did in my life like traveling and getting interested in other things like gardening and sailing,” she told WWD in a joint interview with Bertelli at Prada’s stark white minimalist headquarters here.

“I became a little bit social. I went out. I was communicating with my friends,” she said, appearing relaxed in an oversized blue blazer, a crisp white shirt and black trousers.

If it seems like Sander has just returned from a long vacation, it’s because she has. So used to channeling her energy on work, Sander said the break finally gave her a chance to catch her breath and observe the world around her.

“I’ve gone through this change of living another life and getting a new perspective,” the designer, once known for her hard-driving perfectionism, said. “I’ve changed…I hope it will influence my work.”

Work she will. Sander’s new deal with Prada is a six-year contract as creative director of the label she founded and also has allowed her to buy a minority stake in the business from Prada. Sander now will crank out a men’s collection in a matter of weeks to be presented here next month.

Watching Sander and Bertelli pal about like old chums, laughing at each others’ jokes and clowning around with a book for a photo shoot, one would never have guessed that the pair’s acrimonious breakup three years ago rocked the fashion world and dominated the headlines. Sander stepped down in 2000 as chairwoman and chief designer of her label just months after Prada bought control of the company. In the months they worked together, she and Bertelli continually clashed over creative direction and management of the brand. Following her departure, Bertelli famously said in June 2000: “A brand that’s as strong as Jil Sander doesn’t need to rely on the name of a designer. It’s not the name that counts, but the quality of the product.”
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