Elizabeth Peyton and Sander Lak celebrate the new book “Boje Sies Marjana”

Last night, people gathered at the Rizzoli store on Broadway for a conversation between American artist Elizabeth Peyton and Dutch designer Sander Lak, former creative director of Sies Marjan, to celebrate the launch of his new book Colors of Sies Marjana. The volume, which brings together Lak’s colorful years at Sies Marjan — the label closed in 2020 shortly after the start of the pandemic — features images from the runway and backstage, as well as artwork and other ephemera that served as inspiration for the designer.

Peyton and Lak took the stage in color coordinated combinations. Peyton wore “a brilliant pale pink silk suit,” as she describes it in her foreword to the book (It begins: “I met Sander because of the color.”) The designer wore a beige suit; a piece of pink silk shirt, slightly darker than Peyton’s, peeked out from underneath. It is impossible to believe that it was not intentional. “I’ve always wanted to make a book. I think I’m one of the few designers who’s always loved working on my portfolio—that’s always been my favorite part of getting fired, getting a new job,” Lak said to laughter from the audience. (Later, when someone in the crowd brought up these alleged firings, Lak revealed that he had never actually been shown the door. “You totally kicked me out because I was never fired. Sometimes I lie to make the story better, and this is one of those cases .”)

Lak, who worked at Dries Van Noten before starting Sies Marjan, shared experiences from his life in color. As a boy growing up “in Africa, in the rainforest”, his mother used to dress him and his brothers in bright red and bright blue so that they would be better seen in the “green environment”. “It was a really practical choice that she made that my brothers and I didn’t even think about.” How he can’t stand flowers because they are “too colorful”. “Everything is green in my house, it’s all from plants, because I like green and some are different shades of the same color and I can digest that.”

Autumn 2016

Photo: courtesy of Sies Marjan

Spring 2017

Photo: Umberto Fratini / Indigital.tv

Spring 2018

Photo: Luca Tombolini / Indigital.tv

Spring 2019

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

Now that Lak is no longer part of the fashion circus, you can indulge your passion for color in a different way. “I have these relationships with colors that I really like, and when I was working I’d only have a season where I really loved a color and then I’d have to move on,” he explained, before adding – with tongue firmly planted in his cheek—“I’m currently having a love affair with a certain color, and it’s been going on for over a year now. What color is that? I’m not saying yet, we’re still secret lovers.”

There were poignant moments. “Were you surprised where this book took you when you finished it?” Peyton asked. And what at first seemed like a standard answer – “we did this book via Zoom (…) I traveled a lot (…)” – suddenly revealed real emotions. “I didn’t really think about what moment it would be when I would hold the book in my hands,” Lak recalled. “And then when I had it in my hands, I realized it was something like closure that I hadn’t had before,” he added, his voice breaking. “I didn’t expect to cry.”

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