Jil Sander has an odd brand history. It was sold in 1999 and has since had three owners other than the eponymous Jil Sander. The namesake designer left in 1999 when the brand was sold before returning for a short stint in 2003. Then Raf Simons exemplified his womenswear prowess from 2005 to 2012. Jil Sander returned for a year before handing the job to the current creative director, Rodolfo Paglialunga. The designers the have had the chance to design at Jil Sander have all honoured the minimalist codes of the house. Simons did it effortlessly, enhancing the minimalist aesthetic in exciting ways; Paglialunga hasn’t had the same impact but he’s undeniably garnered great press for his work.
For Fall 2016, Paglialunga explored precision tailoring, although he didn’t want things to become “too precise.” Comparing this Jil Sander collection to anything else from the week would be startling. Milan was bursting from the seams with blinding colour, embellishment and embroidery; Jil Sander was austere, lofty by comparison. The show opened with a boxy, double-breasted white coat with thick black buttons. In the context of Milan Fashion Week it was a defiant opener that evoked the German rigour of the house. Black and white German expressionist film was touched on in the collection. It informed the strict colour palette, limited to variants of black and white.
There was power to this collection. It was a withering look that knocked the viewer down, the models stomping down the catwalk with a fierce conviction. Boxy tuxedos or coats offered the image of an esteemed businesswoman with a ‘no bullshit’ attitude that is stereotypically associated with Germany.
Although this collection was punctuated with strong workwear, sensuality and party-wear bubbled beneath the surface. Frederikke Sofie was clad in a black double-breasted blazer and a silver lurex shirt dress. Hedvig Palm’s coat exposed the neck and the centre split revealed the knee. Necklines fell off the shoulder; sheer slips contributed an element of surprise.
This collection was surprising. I don’t expect to like Jil Sander collections. Though I appreciate the minimalist aesthetics—especially nowadays, when the chintzy nature of fashion design can be overbearing—I find it hard to get on board with the collections. It’s when Paglialunga is willing to truly honour the codes in a rigorous manner, that makes the design feel relevant in 2016, I can’t help but submit to it’s grasp.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com