There were seven plinths of glass-boxed flowers marking the seven years of Raf Simons’ tenure as creative director at Jil Sander.
In fact, they signified a death and a birth. The end of one designer’s almighty reign at his most consistently creative and the birth, or re-birth, of Jil Sander, who will return next Tuesday for the third time to the label she founded in 1968.
In probably the most emotional send off this fashion journalist has ever witnessed, Raf Simons, was recalled to the stage to take a second bow. The audience demanded it, having stormed the catwalk and raised the roof with applause. He appeared briefly, full of emotion, tears streaming down his face.
The magnitude of the moment was lost on no one. Had Jil Sander asked for her role to be renewed and forced Simons’ out? Or was it because the rumour-mill, now in overdrive, had been right all along, that Simons was heading to Paris?
His final collection for the Jil Sander label appeared to be laden with clues. The grand sweeping coats reminiscent of the 1950s seemed to conjure up a modern Dior woman. (The hotseat at Christian Dior has, of course, been open precisely one year following John Galliano’s disgraceful departure). The colours, too, powder pinks, whites, reds – not only a massive relief in a Milan season cooped up in the dark – also appeared to point in the direction of the era synonymous with Dior.
Whatever the next few weeks bring in terms of announcements, or not, this was a stellar bring-the-house-down collection celebrating the utmost talent.
Every piece will become a landmark fashion heirloom, from the finest gauge pale thermal knits to the graceful bustier dresses that flew out from the waist, the ultra contemporary silver or liquid-shine vinyl pieces. Or even, say, the simplest black trouser suit that was totally deferential, in keeping with the Jil Sander house codes.
That is the thing we must never forget about Raf Simons’ tenure at Jil Sander – just how respectful and with what great care he looked after her house. Surely now, after all this time, it's not a question of Dior, or any other house, but the House of Raf.