The howling of arctic winds on the soundtrack introduced Raf Simons' note-perfect hybrid of skiwear and haute couture. After last season's focus on the long skirt, he was keen to inject energy and movement into his fascination with formal fashion. Looking at Louise Dahl-Wolfe's midcentury images of couture photographed in ski resorts, Simons had a eureka moment. But equally, he was drawn to the photography of Diane Arbus and the way she combined a career in fashion with a love of all things twisted. His implication was clear: He identified. That's why his collection for Jil Sander twisted together extremes as unlikely as the volumes of Cristobal Balenciaga and the body consciousness of downhill racers.
Simons has always loved the middle ground between extremes. He calls it "the interzone" (it's an idea that has probably captivated him from the moment he first listened to Joy Division), and here it was best embodied by a combination that, on paper at least, was fiercely unlikely: a couture-worthy cocoon coat with stirrup pants, one of the most derided items of clothing in the modern fashion lexicon. But Simons treasured his. They were precisely pleated, and accommodated by a special slot cut in the wedge heels of the collection's shoes. The designer had really thought this through. The shoes were inspired by the work of Jacques Adnet, a favorite decorator of the midcentury couture elite. The same obsessive attention to detail meant the collection's gorgeous floral prints were a literal couture throwback, to a print by legendary fabric house Bucol.
But that makes everything sound much too academic, when it was actually as immediate as a Winter Olympics-ready knit. The innate streamlined modernism of such a piece was a natural for Simons. So was an idea as arcane—and yet as logical—as down-filled skirts and tops in silk-nylon. If they looked voluminous, they were literally featherlight, which made them an apt metaphor for the whole gloriously mutant collection.
Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear
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