Jil Sander

It may soon turn out that Jil Sander and Prada are the only two collections that matter in Milan, whose long and sad slide into obscurity seems to accelerate with each passing Fashion Week. Gucci may get the most magazine covers and Versace may get the most looks onto Lady Gaga, but the twin pillars of Jil Sander and Prada are, for now, keeping the institution from crumbling to dust. Even the Pope, just half a boot away, has thrown in the towel.

In the second season (not counting men’s) of her third incarnation at her namesake label, Jil Sander showed why she’s obsessive about fabric and proved why a steady hand is everything. Her finest-wool and -cashmere dresses and jackets, with their boxy shapes and oblong shoulders, stood away from the body yet spoke volumes about it. Just this side of geeky, these mannish clothes—in beautifully muted autumnal colors and plaids—hinted at a woman sophisticated beyond her years, for whom simplicity has replaced sexuality. Her square bags and low heels, some with large Pilgrim buckles, conveyed a sense of purpose and purity. And how about that single gold-foil stripe that appeared on all-black looks at the end? If her classmates were beer-bonging at a frat party, this was like a single sip of scotch with the dean. Her wide-pleated skirts falling just below the knee, too, suggested a near-nunnish aversion to the vulgarity, hysteria, and attention-grabbing that has taken hold elsewhere in Milan. 

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