Rodolfo Paglialunga has had a difficult tenure at Jil Sander. Things started positively, as he worked successfully to translate the aesthetic he developed while womenswear design director at Prada to a brand known for intelligent, elevated minimalism. But as he’s been plugging away, the fashion landscape has changed. Maximalism has taken over. Logomania is back in vogue. Call it the Gucci effect. Collections are cluttered, eccentric and, most importantly, joyful. Paglialunga has struggled to seem relevant as this fever for more-is-more has swept through magazines and retailers. In the end, it comes down to emotion. His collections lack it. And more than ever authenticity, warmth and meaning are high currency in fashion. In these difficult times, collections need to feel in tune to the mood - the need to feel awake and alive.
This was Paglialunga’s last collection for Jil Sander. That’s not been confirmed yet, but was widely discussed by those in attendance, who watched this final outing with a mixture of ennui and sympathy. Those oversized suits, with roomy shoulders, were a fine idea, but lacked punch. We’ve seen too many of them recently. The quilted and padding - used most enthusiastically on an acidic citrus dress - made for an unconvincing proposition. It looks unwearable and stiff, rather than soft and enveloping. The only light relief came in the form of some shimmering copper and rust hued dresses which closed the show. They were fine - vaguely attractive and dynamic pieces. But one struggled to see why a shopper would opt for one of those gowns, when there are so many other striking, vaguely oversized, swishy metallic dresses to be had in fashion right now. That’s the root of Jil Sander’s problem right now. It needs to offer something really worth having - something that’s better than the rest. Sander herself could do that. Raf Simons could too. Whoever is in at Sander next needs to up their game and reset the reputation of the house as masters of clothing.