September 22, 2012 Milan
The minimalist who stands on the edge of the future—we've been here before. So, although the show notes spoke of a "Reset to Zero," Sander insisted her new collection was no blank slate—or fresh start. She is, after all, coming off a three-year collaboration with Uniqlo, and her time spent in Tokyo seems to have helped motivate her current energetic reengagement with the world of high fashion. But fashion's axis has shifted, and now the Queen of Clean has serious competition, not least from the man who most recently occupied her place at her label. Viewed as an exercise in re-staking her claim, today's show made a worthy enough start. It's easy to see why Sander prefers words like "purity" and "integrity" to the more commonly used "minimalism" or "reduction." Her designs were both pure and true to her ethos, which is to make an intelligent, respectful appeal to women of all ages. The show opened, for instance, with a sleeveless coat-dress that, over a white blouse, looked like a schoolgirl jumper—perfect for the gravely pretty models whose hair and makeup seemed designed to emphasize their youth. But it was followed by another coat-dress whose sleeves fell to just below the elbow, a proportion that was chic but kind for an older customer.
Sander claimed her key question for any woman is "How do you feel?" She'd probably like her women to feel like her: always curious, never stopping. That's why movement underscored the collection—all kinds. Take the jacket whose subtly exaggerated back allowed for an elegant swing; or the less successful oversize culottes that swished like a silk skirt; or the boots with zips that spiraled around the calf. Sander also corralled the movement with tapered silhouettes that struck quietly sophisticated chords.
All of which sounds like Sander ran a real gamut today. At the very least, it suggests she has opened her arms a little wider to the world. Once fiercely private, she was even introducing family members backstage. The way she tells it, Tokyo helped expand her horizons. And Sander's acknowledgment of just how complicated women are signposts the challenge she has elected to take on. If she's not going to make life easy for herself, she may be about to make it more interesting for us.