I have been mulling my review of the Jil Sander collection for some time. Not because I didn’t like the show, but because it encapsulates the essence of fashion regime change.
After a hesitant start, Creative Director Rodolfo Paglialunga is making a good job of capturing the clean spirit of the founder, who was in and out of her namesake company more times than you can say ‘minimalism’.
I had a good feeling when I saw the flat runway punctuated by brightly coloured pillars. (Something that Jonathan Saunders did too in London.)
But Rodolfo made those pillars a pronouncement of his geometric collection. First came tailored coats with a flash of sorbet colours — strawberry and mango — at the neck, and a mannish suit where the long jacket looked too severe for female comfort.
But then the designer took out his maths toolset and went with diagonal lines. These sharp, angular stripes, sometimes crisscrossing each other, were effective in giving a modern elegance to clothes built on straight lines.
This is something Jil Sander herself might have done, I thought. And there lies the problem. In fact, in her long fashion journey from chic severity to sweet serenity, Jil was always surprising me. I remember a collection when childish squiggles suddenly appeared among the minimalism.
But pity the poor follow-up designers, who, if they branch too far from the tree trunk, are seen as abandoning the brand signatures. Too little, and the collection is stagnant.
I commend Rodolfo for what he has achieved. But I would not wish to be in his colourful boots.
And there are going to be so many more designers in a similar position as the Italian companies go through the same painful process as the French have already experienced. I wish them all well in these anxious takeovers as famous fashion figures finally leave the stage.