Beethoven's 7th on the soundtrack, marble cited as an inspiration in the show notes, a pattern of watery ripples spreading across a coat, a top put all of that together and one might justifiably assume Raf Simons had looked to Venice as inspiration for his latest Jil Sander collection. But despite a somber, monumental air to the clothes, "fragmentation" was in fact Simons' mot du jour. The way that marble and stone crack over time into veiny fragments offered the designer a golden (or maybe granite) opportunity to inject a graphic element into a collection that has previously been distinguished by its monochromatic purity. At the same time, it gave him a chance to make a statement about the way that fashion's past, present, and future are endlessly de- and re-constructed. If his concept wasn't entirely successful, it's possibly because there was so much marblingin coats and suits with matching totes and turtlenecks, and a fuzzy mohair for good measure. It felt oddly retro, like a splash-dash New Wave moment. The eighties effect was compounded by a silhouette that pumped up the volume on top and trimmed the leg away to a leotard slimness, ending in a shoe of a creeperlike chunk. (On the evidence of Milan's first day, early adopters are forecasting such bulk as the foot of the future.)
The swell of Angelo Badalamenti's music for Mulholland Drive offered a better index of Simons' true gift. In a David Lynch-ian "Nothing is quite what it seems" way, the graphic texture of a coat suggested beading when it was actually tweed, and a pleating effectsometimes horizontal, sometimes verticalloaned a new definition to the body's movement. Simons really thinks about clothes, for which we can be eternally grateful. And he gives us more reason to be thankful when what he's thinking about gels with what we'd want to wear, as in a suit with a dull but seductive metallic gleam.