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August 20 2014

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Jil Sander—and Her “Keen Eye for Pure Beauty”—Make a Comeback

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“I worked with Jil a lot on campaigns a long while ago—with Guinevere [Van Seenus], in the old days,” Pat McGrath said backstage at Jil Sander, where the old days all of a sudden seemed new again. Van Seenus made a surprise runway appearance this week in Milan, and today, Jil Sander returned to helm her namesake line for the first time in eight years.

“The DNA [of the brand] was always very simple, but there was still something going on with the makeup,” McGrath continued, slipping back into flashback mode when describing the Spring beauty look, which had all the same elements of nineties-era Sander—the tonal lids and lips, the filled-in arches, and the clean skin—but with a slight nudge of modernity that came by way of a creamy highlighter that was blended onto cheekbones, temples, and eyes to catch the light as girls walked the white-on-white concave runway. “There’s a lot of maintenance,” McGrath explained of the bulk of her backstage duties, which included everything from eyebrow plucking and brow recoloring to exfoliating with Olay Regenerist Pro-X Cleanser and applying SK-II Signs Eye Masks to girls in need of a little de-puffing. “They really do work!” she proclaimed of the hydrating cloth strips.

Guido Palau, another one of Sander’s longtime collaborators, was feeling similarly nostalgic. “It’s kind of funny doing Jil Sander with Jil Sander,” he joked, having previously worked both with Sander and her predecessors, including current Dior creative director Raf Simons. That said, Palau is plenty familiar with the house codes, which called for “really rich, simple, simple hair.” Cue the ponytails that hung low and long thanks to blunt-cut extensions prepped with Redken Satinwear 02 Ultimate Blow-dry Lotion and its Shine Flash 02 Glistening Mist. “It’s stick straight,” Palau said of flat-ironed strands, before gathering them into an elastic, which he “dragged down” so it didn’t sit too tight or too perfect.

“You realize how forward-thinking she was,” Palau reminisced of Sander as finished models scurried toward the dressing room to get into their clothes for the show.”She has a keen eye for pure beauty”—the kind that dominated the first half of the Spring shows and was perhaps at its best here.

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