The Balanescu Quartet's chamber-music take on Kraftwerk made a perfect sonic counterpoint to Raf Simons's second menswear collection for Jil Sander. The classicism of the style, the futurism of the content: There you have Simons in a nutshell. In that respect, he almost bears comparison to Cristobal Balenciaga, the greatest couturier of them all. And, like the master, he removed anything potentially distractingthe shoes were the same throughout, buttons were concealed behind fly fronts, trousers were worn beltlessin order that the important details stood out. To wit, the placement of pockets, or the treatment of seams.
The volume that Simons proposed for fall carried through into the new season. This was most noticeable in "one-and-a-half-breasted" coats and jackets that stood away from the body, but it could also be traced, more subtly, in shirts that billowed lighter than air. A lot of that had to do with the fabric technology that Simons is perfecting in Japan: The polyester poplins he used for his blue-and-silvery macs were so flyaway they were almost transparent. By way of weighty contrast, a short-sleeved shirt in midnight-blue leather had been "diamond-polished" till it had the seductive sheen of an oil slick.
Backstage, the designer acknowledged that his experiments with proportion at Sander are likely to be a slow evolution. When it came to color though, he went for broke this season, presenting shades so saturated they were practically luminous. Yves Klein blue, fire-engine red and an ice-creamy orange added a literally breathtaking punch to knit tops and polo shirtsa clear indication of Simons's confident mastery.