Sunday, 26 February 2012

Milan Fashion Week | Jil Sander by Raf Simons

Jil Sander Fall/Winter 2012/13 by Raf Simons

The audience stood and cheered for Raf Simons as he took his final bow at Jil Sander today. Then they continued to stand and cheer until the designer, overwhelmed by emotion, reappeared on the catwalk. An ovation and an encore: That is the very definition of a hard fashion act to follow. Which is exactly as it should be, given what Simons has achieved in his seven years at Jil Sander. Never mind that this was the best collection he'd presented for the label. In light of the week's events, there was an unwittingly bitter irony to the story it told. After last season's women's-world scenario, Simons wanted to celebrate a day in the life of a relationship, the pure and simple pleasure of two as one. But Raf's no Pollyanna. He was equally engaged by the hard work it takes to maintain such an ideal. So he introduced chaos into his dream world. The most graphically significant element in his collection might have been the slash of shine that split open Julia Nobis' strapless matte black sheath. Thus are hopes and dreams splintered.

Before that climactic moment, however, there was a seamless parade of peerlessly beautiful dresses and coats. A grace note was struck from the moment models entered clutching their coats closed. In Raf's day-in-the-life scenario, these might have been bathrobes, just as insinuations of slips and nighties crept in later. A palette of blush pink, coffee, and pale gray underlined an early-morning feel. The soundtrack was Mazzy Star's "Fade into You" and Sonic Youth's version of the Carpenters classic "Superstar," both songs where love is lorn. Can melancholia be uplifting? Here be proof, compounded by Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight," one of Simons' favorite songs. It sounded like an envoi to the Sander years.

He called his previous three seasons for Sander his "couture trilogy," and even before this week's shock announcement that he was departing and the house's namesake founder was returning, Simons had decided he wanted to unhinge the perfect universe he'd created. The leathered-up menswear collection he showed here in January cued a dark finale for his womenswear, where black leather and PVC threw a fetish wrench in a perfect day. Again, irony, in that the complete control of his Spring collection implied that chaos is a shot away. And here it finally was. Good luck to his successor. She'll need it.

The coats often shrugged open to reveal camisole slipdresses intriguingly pieced from different types of knit, a hand-knit-looking cable for the sleeves, say; the finest underwear jersey for the torso; and a thicker gauge for the gently swinging skirts. Those luxurious double-face coats with their welted seams, a classic Jil Sander signature, were cut like balmacaans or full-bodied swing coats in fine meltons or even a stiff cotton. 

Characteristically, however, Simons had reimagined those armorial originals for the modern woman, with poetic asymmetry to the skirts, and in light or innovative fabrics. These included a soft, mauve-pink charmeuse satin, draped like a pareo over a buff-colored bra top, and a fine vinyl, in platinum that winked beneath a pale stone-colored coat, or in black sliced into black wool in a curving spiral, or draped into a dramatic panache over a strapless wool bodice. Those structured bra or off-the-shoulder tops were also worn with high-waist, wide-leg pants, a look that suggested a modern jumpsuit.

Accessories included an elegant strappy high heel that pieced chic neutral colors with a dash of fluo in a sophisticated patchwork, and a simple rectangular clutch in reflective or crystal-dazzled fabrics. Some of the coats were cut to the ankles, like the most luxurious dressing gowns or the kind of “at home” robes favored by midcentury tastemakers such as Mona Bismarck, Marella Agnelli, and Pauline de Rothschild. In this collection, Simons has continued his engagement with the style of those iconic “haute couture” ladies and their lifestyles and couturiers that have intrigued him for several seasons.

The strapless or off-the-shoulder evening dresses, with their full, swinging skirts of origami complexity, for instance, evoked the midcentury masterworks of Charles James, Christian Dior, and Jacques Fath. The first girl to appear wrapped about her a version in soft sugar pink wool faced in stone, and subsequent variants were in subtle colors like orchid and rose pinks, mauve, and a vivid poppy red; colors that were reflected in the ravishing floral arrangements that dotted the stage, modernistically encased within Lucite boxes. (These latter-day Dutch still-lives were the work of Simons’s friend and fellow Antwerp native, Mark Colle.)  In a collection as elegant, nuanced, and thoughtful as the designer himself, Raf Simons’s final show for the house of Jil Sander proved an exquisite coda to his remarkable career here.

Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories

Photo Credit/Source: VOGUE
Photography by Marcio Madeira/firstVIEW

Enjoy my previous Milan Fashion Week-post - 

Fall/Winter 2012/12 Collection 


Shagun said...

Raf Simon has created softly alluring, romantic couture for Jil Sander.J'adore baby pinks, coral red, Satin feel of designs.Lovely dresses..the long coats are beautifully modern.Amazing editorial by you, dear Andrea. I love it!!!!


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