The current designer uses batwing shoulders and pleats on a tilt to re-draw the silhouette for the new millennium
Beloved or benighted — are the 1980s really worth reviving? Especially when the brand concerned had nothing to do with the exaggerated broad shoulders and in-your-face extravagance of that era?
Think Jil Sander re-drawn with the streetwise flourish of current brand collective Vetements, plus the knife-sharpness of Pleats Please Issey Miyake, and you have some idea of the offering from the designer Rodolfo Paglialunga. Was it a big bold statement? Yes. Was it suited to a refreshing of the brand founded on the idea of appropriating menswear to make women strong? There, the answer is equivocal.
The designer, the most recent in a long line, has made a flourish. An orange leather jacket, broad at the shoulders, lean at the waist and long enough to reach the thighs, created a firm silhouette and a bold statement. Especially as it was followed by other separates in the same colour: knee-length shorts; soft dresses with those sharp shoulders; or just a skirt with a pouch bag tied around the waist below billowing pleats.
There has been a recent movement in fashion towards Miyake-style pleats, so innovative that the Japanese designer took out a patent in the early 1990s. Rodolfo took the idea and made it work for going to work. Cream pleats fanned out from shoulders, but narrowed from the waist down; this was the dress shape for the collection. It came in bright sorbet colours and in black which was a dominating colour for the tailoring, oversized in its cut and best described as “stern”.
Although I found this almost caricature of feminism unsettling, the designer is at least drawing a new image of Jil Sander. And as with so many houses where the founding designer had to be replaced, Rodolfo has something to say. It will be interesting to see whether in store or online, the retail offering will maintain his dramatic statement of batwing shoulders and oversized 1980s shapes to such an extreme extent.