There's no doubt Raf Simons has made significant strides toward putting the credibility back into Jil Sander. He sees the project clearly and clinically, rigorously realigning the brand with the purist, slightly Japanese-influenced values its founder brought to fashion. Part of the task is to renew the core of the label's tailoring, particularly by reinventing the money-spinning house pantsuit, which has to find a way to move on from the sober nineties template. That Simons did, by recutting the elements into two distinct silhouettes. The newer one shrinks the jacket to a super-short bolero; elongates the torso with a tight, hip-length knit; and then breaks into a full, fluid pant beneath. The other approach flips it, with a looser, longer jacket (chopped off at the shoulder as a bustier in the show's first exit) over pants so narrow they're virtually indistinguishable from leggings.
To be picky on the pragmatic front, thoughsince Sander's high-flying customer base is that, above allthere are difficulties. One: The crop of the jacket might work on a flat-chested beanpole model, but on a woman with a real-life bosom? Two: Those super-skinny pants are not the most forgiving when viewed from behind. And then there's the color: Simons is right to seek an exit from the clichéd minimal-monochrome palette, but his liking for hot pink, orange, and vivid royal blue seems unlikely to hit the spot at retail. For all that eye-catching assertivenessand the arty uses of sheer versus opaque, and organza-and-tulle pieces cut in circles and squares, and the passage of the Sander woman in holiday beachwearit was two midnight blue looks that made the strongest impressions. One was a long jacket, semi-fitted in the front but nicely curved into the small of the back, the other an asymmetrically draped sleeveless dress; both were quintessentially the things that will keep the faithful shopping.