Today Jil Sander returned to the runway after a seven-year hiatus. This is the second time that she has come back to the house that holds her name, now following in the footsteps of Raf Simons – formidable shoes to fill, even if they are technically your own. Jil needn’t have worried. This was the perfect comeback. She offered a new vision for the house that was so clearly her own – no fuss, no pointless pomp and ceremony, just simple yet directional clothes – without trying to U-turn or usurp any of the progress that Simons brought to the label.
Tailoring was at the heart of the collection. As always, the skill was in the understated variations, in this case the ever-evolving shapes. Jackets ranged from short and tight to oversized shapely cabans and English-style sports jackets. On the bottom half we were offered contrasting visions of sporty drop-crotch board shorts and neat slim cropped trousers. Fabric – Sander’s favourite playground – was appropriately experimental, combining classical weaving structures with new mixes of natural fibre, including high twisted cotton and wrinkle-free mohair crossed with wool and silk.
The colour palette was simple, driven by primary brights. This was Sander’s unique version of colour blocking. The models, rather than the items, were blocked, sent out in a series of matching head-to toe colours, starting with blue then moving through to yellow, green and red. Slightly different tones were paired together – most successfully in a look that matched a deep inky navy suit with a lighter indigo shirt.
Sander never misses a trick – the repetitive sea of whole-body colour was broken up with some patterned pieces that kept the collection fresh and young. Drawing on the work of German abstract painter Binky Palermo and American minimalist artist Robert Mangold, she offered geometric printed knitwear and playful polka-dot matchy-matchy ensembles.
Throughout the collection, the varying shapes and tones were tied together by Sander’s signature touches – button-less cuffs, perfect white shirts and clean leather accessories. A fun detail that particularly took my fancy was the bold colour pop (including a perfect candy pink) on the soles of shoes, a hangover from Raf's days.
The strongest section of the show was the last - a series of crisp tight white pieces that cleansed the palette after the last few shots of colour. Funnily enough it was that same cooling, clear white that Jil Sander opted for when she made her first (short-lived) return to the label on the womenswear runway for S/S 2004. We can only hope that this time she’ll stay put longer.