Following Jil Sander
, a founding mother of fashion androgyny, would be hard enough. Coming after Raf Simons, the powerful replacement for Jil in her on/off years, might be even harder.
Designer Rodolfo Paglialunga, now the label’s creative director, started his debut collection in Milan with the concept of “all change”. Simons famously painted Jil’s minimalist show space black and filled it with vases of flowers. Rodolfo played with other areas in the building, giving the audience a through-the-window view of Milan’s famous Sforza Castello.
But opening up the brand to the outside world did not translate into changes on the runway. The show was respectful to Jil Sander’s concept of the masculine morphing into the feminine. Paglialunga brought in all sorts of pieces like tailored shirts, perhaps worn with a sleeveless sweater.
The show was not flooded with trouser suits, because that era has gone. But there were more baggy, sexless shorts than most men (let alone women!) would sign up for.
The tailoring was streamlined and the skirts well cut, some with the graphic patterning that Jil herself tried after one of her three departures and comebacks. There was a vague hint of sporty uniforms in navy and oxblood.
If I were a buyer, I would probably rejoice that Jil Sander, the brand, is back on track with a sleek and comprehensible collection. As a fashion editor, I feel that Rodolfo, who cited his inspiration as Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a 1930s Swiss photographer of androgynous beauty, has now paid his dues to Jil. Next season it will be time to move on.