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MFW: Jil Sander collection brings life to a lackluster week

February 28, 2009 |  5:26 pm

MILAN -- Thank goodness for Raf Simons. Just when the Milan shows were about to put us all to sleep, he showed some of the most exciting clothes of the fall season.

The first part of his collection for Jil Sander was a tribute to the 20-year-old label's powerful minimalist aesthetic, reminding us that something as simple as a cream turtleneck dress and oatmeal-colored double-face cashmere coat can shine, thanks to perfect cut and fabrication.

A clever black dress made to look like a jacket with lapels and pocket flaps, and a traffic-cone orange Rage_sander short sleeve shift with raised seams, further demonstrated the brand's timeless, spare beauty, while juicy-colored patent leather flats injected a small dose of up-to-the-moment fashion.

Then the music went down, colored lights started flashing and the real show began, the one where Simons let his imagination run wild. Inspired by the work of French ceramist Pol Chambost, Simons' sculptural forms with contrast color pieces peeling away from, or spiraling around, the body were thrilling to look at from every angle.

Neon yellow or green peeked out from the asymmetrical hem of a black skirt and the funnel neck of a black dress. A white coat with a single undulating lapel was strong and graphic, as was a purple shift with a curving, folded collar.

The concept got the better of Simons with a few awkward volumes and flying hip flourishes that disregarded a woman's figure.  Still, the creative impulse was electrifying.

-- Booth Moore

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Photo: A look from the Fall '09 Jil Sander collection at Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Giulio di Mauro/European Pressphoto Agency.