Raf’s Triumphant and Tearful exit from Jil Sander

by Katie on February 25, 2012

Since last Thursday’s announcement that Jil Sander (yes, the one and only) would be returning to the House she founded 44 years ago, planet fashion has been all a twitter…on twitter. There’s been mixed emotions about this one – fantastic news that the lady triumphant would be headlining this esteemed fashion house and enormous sadness that the visionary genius of Raf Simons would be on the way out. Rumours and speculation have been rife from the beginning that Raf would be heading to Dior, a traditional couture house that some (including myself) have thought an ill-fit for this modernist maverick.

If Raf proved anything in his latest and last Fall/Winter 12 Jil Sander show, it’s that he is heading to Dior with trusty elegant hands. Simons filled the runway with bouquets in square glass plinths and sent out model after model wearing the most sublime tones and shapes of modern classicism that every editor and fashion fan drew gasps at and which left the audience, the models and the designer in tears. This swansong was a fashion moment to be remembered.

The show started with pale willowy women drifting down the catwalk clutching swing duster coats to their chests in sugared almond colours. Palest pink with white lining, camel with dusky pink lining and purple with black lining, the coats hung in perfect symmetry with the model’s movements. Worn over body skimming, simple nude shifts, the look was relaxed, ultra modern and chic. The feel of couture was ever present with the high roll neck silk cotton sweater being teamed with a long, gathered in folds, lilac and white, floor skimming skirt while the strapless gown in blush looked ever so 21st Audrey Hepburn and even more so, paired with a wrap kimono type coat – elegance beyond imagination.

Raf wasn’t only influenced by couture lines but brought his own handwriting in swathes to the mix. Shift dresses had architectured colour blocking and his all in one pantsuits with ultra long, lean flares were either bustier or cut in sculptured ’50’s sweetheart neckline shapes. Voluminous ‘New Look’ shapes fell at mid calf while splurges of bright red came through in collarless coats.

Simons played with light in his sheeny satin metallics, some caught and gathered at the hem (like past Simons collections) but worn with muted tonal soft beige, the clash was entirely correct and fitting. A futurist at heart, flashes of black patent peeped through or appeared as slashes on dresses and skirts. But it was Simons’ ability to take elements and lines from the past and marry them seamlessly with an artist’s air and vision that will make this collection go down in fashion history.  

Discretion is the better part of valour. Raf saved the best for last.
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