Jil Sander Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

by Alexander Patino

Raf Simons has a real talent for answering equally to both men and women’s sartorial dreams. The themes and motifs he explores in his eponymous line and for the treasured house of Jil Sander tend to catch on with other designers like wildfire. The zeitgeist is his to define and it has something to do with the bravery he harnesses in his approach to design. Bold, neon monochromatic men’s suits? Why not? Also, this season would hardly be as laden in the marriage of mid-century couture and modern wares were it not for his last two collections at Jil Sander, with this spring line-up as the closing chapter in his couture-themed triumvirate.

The show opened with a series of all-white looks, a choice many designers have been employing as of late, and by this stage in a month-long run of fashion shows, has already started to feel stale, great garments or no great garments. The Jil Sander signature white poplin shirts and dresses that opened felt hyper clinical. Not Beth Israel clinical, more like wellness retreat clinical. Mid-century estheticians, or inversely, proper women on the road to Wellville. The delicate tiering on one of the skirts showed exceptional craftsmanship and there was something particularly rich and proper about the polo cut top on Sigrid Agren’s look. With this blanched introduction, there was a feeling that what was to come would stray from the chaos strewn about the runways this season. Today, Jil Sander would be about order and restraint. Halcyon dressing for ladies who lunch.

It quickly went from purity of spirit to an upper echelon recalcitrance. Did that pink, blue and green paisley shift just come down the runway with a ski hat-veil? Why yes, yes it did. Raf Simons has that special touch in common with another special trend-setter – Riccardo Tisci – he’s something of a fashion bad boy, who can’t help but infuse that personal hip touch, even when the scene calls for absolute, strict propriety. It’s no wonder the knits in the middle of the lineup came with abstracted frontispieces of Picasso ceramics, the ultimate modernist bad-boy. Those stellar pieces, none more fabulous than the other, were followed by powdery gingham smart dresses, the ones swathed in sheer, perhaps, harder to pull off than others.

In true classical Comedy form, Simons concluded the already bravura performance with four pristine white wedding gowns, in all their Grace Kelly glory. He truly wanted to see what the Jil Sander woman would wear on her special day. She would look fabulous. Should the bridesmaids wear those unbelievably cool ski hat-veils, she’d risk the chance of getting out-shined.