It was sharp, precise, and pinging with hard, bright color. An acid-yellow shirt with a short, navy duchesse satin skirt. A skinny-legged black pantsuit with a cropped, high-fastened, one-button jacket, showing a flash of emerald shirt at the neck. An inky-blue elliptical dress with a drape in the back.

"I wanted energy," Raf Simons said of a Jil Sander presentation that read as a mandate for sense and simplicity. "And to show that the collection is not only for the needs of young women." Among the dispiriting confusion of beige and junior disco-flash that has bogged down Milan, Simons took on challenges that other designers have been frantically avoiding: working on a pantsuit, coming up with strategies to modernize a dress, making clothes that just might apply to the life of a high-achieving woman.

To begin with, he did that by calibrating the millimeter of difference—in the sliver-width of lapel, or the placement and concealment of fastenings—that separates an innovative piece of tailoring from boring corporate uniform. Slim, fly-fronted coats and a multiplicity of short jackets, distinctively cut to stand slightly away from the body, achieved that. And if the ultra-narrow trouser isn't for everyone, he was careful to put in a reassuring wider option, too.

All of the above faithfully walked the line marked out by Jil Sander in the nineties, but Simons also broke new ground by acknowledging the rising cohort of women who have added dresses to their daily repertoire. His office-appropriate navy sleeveless sheath with a drape in the torso, shimmery fish-scale ombré sequin cocktail dress, and to-the-floor button-through shirtwaister—and many more—showed that he even had that part of the equation down.