Just when it seemed clothes couldn't get any more complicated, Jil Sander came along with a collection that blew away the fuss like a clean spring breeze. Take her opening look: a white jacket with a blue roller-print marking on the front, tucked into a cream pencil skirt, and worn with flats. Boring? Not at all—more like artistic simplicity. It takes world-class talent to give the elements of every day—shirts, blazers, pants, raincoats—a good name in the fashion book.

Normal clothes like these haven't had much attention since Helmut Lang, Miuccia Prada, and Sander herself defined nineties minimalism. Now she's doing it again, but this time with color, surface decoration, a relaxed sense of femininity, and none of her earlier tendency to abstruse abstraction. What woman wouldn't fall for a taupe trench, slightly A-line, with a couple of big chic brass buttons? Or a frilled shirt, a flattering pair of wide cuffed pants, a one-button jacket brilliantly cut in turquoise? You'd hardly expect frills in this formerly austere environment, but Sander added softness (say, a scarf tied in a bow) and turned one of her beloved techno-fabrics (an ultra-luxurious neo-taffeta) into a small-waisted weightless white coat with a tulle skirt sticking out beneath the oval skirt.

Sander gave the trend toward ethnic influence a glance with an ikat-like computerized placement print, but there was no sense that she was leaning heavily on a theme. Interesting, light-handed sportswear is enough for her—and in overwrought times like these, that looks like a breakthrough.