The return of Jil Sander to her eponymous line after an eight year high-fashion hiatus is one of the industry’s most noted, talked about stories. Raf Simons, the man who held the reins at the house, to a staggering heap of accolades, was unceremoniously let go, got the role as head honcho at Christian Dior and Sander herself, the woman behind the label, was immediately pegged not as a comeback story, but as a usurper. Simons is fashion’s golden boy of the moment. Jil Sander was certainly fashion’s high empress of crisp and clean in her heyday. Now, newlyfound fashionistas react to her name like one would an old treasured designer from the days of yore. People, you know she’s still alive, right?
Jil Sander has long held the ‘Queen of Minimalism’ crown. One could argue that without Sander, there would be no Celine as we know, or Chloe as we knew it then. And what about Simons himself? He’s been menswear’s champion for decades, and yet, his womenswear is so closely aligned with the Jil Sander code, it’s hard to tell who is influencing whom. Judging from the collection Sander just showed, it’s not too difficult to discern that she’s still only listening to the pluck of her own iron string.
But what are the lessons Sander learned during her three year collaboration with Japanese juggernaut Uniqlo? Whatever the answer may be, things are already not looking good. The opener – a sleeveless coatdress in the most unappealing, downright depressing shade of maroon imaginable. The styling didn’t help the first impression. It wasn’t innocent beauty, it was full-blown asceticism. School marm deluxe. Luckily, it wasn’t actually as terrible as the first look would lead one to believe. It was all the maroon’s fault. The coat dress, and many skirts that followed, were marked by that clean and billowy couture-like cut that – you guessed it, made a major resurgence not too long ago at Raf Simons’ first outing as a couturier at Christian Dior.
Sander actually hit upon a British Mod note, the main culprits, her black and white colored-blocked pieces. They were the best in the collection and anyone would be hard-pressed to discount the athletic and futuristic finesse of Caroline Brasch Nielsen’s body-hugging number. But overall, this was a misstep, but a misstep from a master, nonetheless. Those plastic, oily bubbles on the skirts that closed the show were a final, saccharine affront. But she’s just catching her footing after a long break. A master can be forgiven, if at least only once.