Jil Sander may be the last designer resource for alpha-female corporate dressing left unbowed in the twenty-first centuryit's certainly the only one that dares to air a full range of navy pantsuits on a runway. That unflinching Belgian pragmatism regarding the need for upper-echelon career clothes has, after three seasons, become Raf Simons' brand-stabilizing trademark, alongside the stamp of calm conceptualism he's bringing to the house.
The show opened with a new, almost monastic, close-cut cape with a rounded shoulder, after which Simons reiterated the silhouette of narrow body-line coats and jackets with attenuated skinny pants, ballasting them, as before, with heavy black platforms. The variation among the plain blues and grays came in a few futuristic shot metallics, which broke out more delicately in a silver accordion-pleated dress for evening.
The effect of all this was to make the eye search for the new points. Simons has added some terrific ribbed knits with little turned-down collars, including a maroon sweater dress. Most of the innovation, however, was concentrated in the intelligent minutiae. For example, he made the simple combination of a green skirt and a matching skinny, high-neck sweater look interesting by adding a wrapped-band waistline.
Simons' dresses, too, have incisive economy of cut, like an otherwise plain short-sleeve boardroom sheath with a single off-center vertical raised tuck. That made the collection solid on go-to-work daywear, but for evening there were also outstanding pieces: a one-shouldered white sheath, and a little black velvet dress modernized with a pair of tramline seams in front. Those developments, along with three elegantly asymmetrical flyaway dresses, lent a degree of uplift to the conclusion of a businesslike message.