Eight years ago, Jil Sander walked away from the label she had founded. Today, in Milan, she was back, emotional and triumphant
Two questions to be answered: First, now that the world has Phoebe Philo – minimalism that walks to a cool, London, modern beat – will the Celine customer (she of that pure, minimalist mind set) also buy Jil Sander? And second, another inevitable comparison – will the current Sander customer miss the softness and femininity that Raf Simons brought to the label?
These are hard questions to ask, given that we had just witnessed Sander’s emotional, triumphant renaissance of her particular brand of understatement in the form of pristine precision of a Teutonic order.
The show notes opened with ‘Reset to Zero’, but this collection could have followed her last, eight years ago – such is her uber-modern yet timeless aesthetic, worked here in strict blocks of navy, aubergine, orange, black, brown and white.
Sander’s collection had such clarity and force of vision with its sculpted curves, tapering hems and airy volumes that her shirt dresses, knee-length coats, stove-pipe pants, sleeveless jackets, blouses and skirts – almost defy description. For Sander, it is all about the cut; the pleasure she takes in the making of apparently simple clothes. And for their wearer, the joy of throwing something on that requires no thought, but is utterly unique and yet supremely wearable.
Wearable futurism. Take the ‘Spiral’ boots – also in those block colours – calf length or long and sock-like with two opposing tones spiralling up to the knee. Or the last section, all in white, stamped with iridescent rubberised spots.
Yes, it’s easy to think of Celine when you see Sander’s collection – but where did Phoebe Philo get her inspiration from in the first place? Could it have been this 69-year-old German designer? And yes, it’s easy to miss Raf Simons’ gentle hand. But, as an emotional Sander said, when asked to sum up her collection backstage: ‘It was beauty, excellency and sensitivity.’ She then looked up at the throng of international editors, clamouring to wish her well: ‘And look, here, a lot of friends from my long work.’
Was there ever a clearer sign that the haute fashion industry is shifting shape? Now, with Raf Simons versus Hedi, at Dior and YSL respectively, and now Sander versus Philo, make no mistake about it – minimalism is on the march.Check back for all the show images later...