Matchesfashion is marking the second year of its Innovators programme with a series of conversations between its chosen emerging talents and the designers they most admire. The programme, created to provide young talent with the support they need to grow their businesses, invites Grace Wales Bonner to explore the history and future of fashion in a wide-ranging conversation with Lucie and Luke Meier.

The Jil Sander creative directors were a natural choice for Wales Bonner, who last year succeeded Lucie and Luke Meier in their role as head of fashion at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. The trio explored this intellectual approach to fashion over email.

Grace Wales Bonner and Lucie and Luke Meier in conversation

‘I’m really interested in fashion as a means of communication,’ Wales Bonner notes. ‘I feel lucky because I have different ways to express myself, whether that’s through a publication or through a sound experience. I like to create different strands that can express different ideas – but they’re all part of one expression.’

It is a philosophy that strikes a chord with Lucie Meier, who believes on one level fashion expresses itself as art. ‘There is exceptional beauty and emotion, there is the making and the skill, precision, and technique that can elevate pieces,’ she expands. ‘But there is also the simplicity of the right garment on the right person in the right environment and that can be incredibly inspiring and emotional. It is part of the equation of art.’

man sat on chair weaing suit

The designers also discuss what appeals to them about the slick silhouettes of menswear, with Wales Bonner revealing it was the perceived limitations which first attracted her. ‘I felt like within menswear there was a lot more room to innovate and a lot that hadn’t been said and so that was an exciting territory,’ she says, while for Lucie it is the commitment to shape, material and quality that appeals, and for Luke the consistency and singularity of the work.

Inspiration is a topic that interests them all, and they share an eclectic assortment of interests that have guided their artistic development. For Luke, it was initially music and skateboarding and the attitude particular to both of them; ‘The idea of being an individual, of creating something new and exciting,’ he says.

‘Living in different places absolutely made a strong impression, being around different styles, ideas, expression. Probably the strongest moment would have been when I moved to New York. However, recently I have been inspired by individual people, their stories, and trying to find the best way for me to connect on a very personal level,’ he continues. ‘And of course Lucie has been someone who has pushed my development for a very, very long time.’

Ultimately, the three designers share a belief in fashion as a means of expression. ‘Fashion feels like the most direct medium I have,’ says Wales Bonner.

‘We want to create an emotion between a person and their clothes,’ adds Lucie. ‘What we do is very personal and it should relate to someone’s point of view.’ §

Man weaing leather jacket
Woman weating black suit
Woman wearing slip dress and suit jacket