Jil Sander autumn/winter 2012
It’s difficult to separate the emotions felt after Raf Simons’ last show for Jil Sander from the contents of the collection itself. For once the finale of models filed past and returned backstage, what played out has already gone down in the books as a momentous occasion in fashion history:
To the tune of The Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight, the audience leapt to their feet in a standing ovation (Anna Wintour being one of the first) and cheered loudly as Simons took his bow (okay, Anna didn’t cheer, per se), but the clapping didn’t stop when he disappeared from sight. Instead, a crowd rushed onto the pristine white catwalk and urged for an encore appearance from the Belgian designer. He emerged, red-faced with tears streaking down his face and a hand over his mouth, overcome with emotion. Several members of the Jil Sander PR team were also crying and I spied more than a few audience members sobbing as well. Heck, I was even on the verge of tears.
It was an incredible moment and even though I suspect the majority of the rapturous applause was in acknowledgement of Simons’ groundbreaking seven years at Jil Sander (which was also marked by seven vitrines holding breathtaking floral arrangements – six on the runway, one as we walked into the venue), we had also just witnessed another stunning collection from the modern minimalist master.
The clothes were pure Raf – er, Jil Sander? – absolutely beautiful, simple, feminine and powerful. The soft-shouldered and voluminous cashmere coats that opened the show were followed by lingerie-inspired dresses made of knit panels, skirts and full-skirted bustier dresses with asymmetrical seams that were boxed out to add volume around the hips, and wide-leg trousers with rib-high waists to show off the bustier tops. So far, pastels dominated the colour scheme, with hits of navy and bright red. Then the metallic dresses crept in, first light pink then silver, topped by those gorgeous coats, and finally, a finale of all-black outfits incorporating PVC.
Given that the S/S 2012 collection was meant to be the final in a trilogy paying homage to 1950s haute couture, that Simons returned to the theme once again for A/W 2012 suggests it was probably known much earlier than during Milan Fashion Week that he would part ways with the label, and therefore he did not move into a new direction. Indeed, compared to the last few collections, though this one wasn’t as pioneering in terms of shape or textures, it was still a glorious affirmation of the influence Raf Simons has had on womenswear and more importantly, on how modern women dress. No small feat for a designer who previously only designed menswear.
As to where or what Simons will do next is anyone’s guess. But as the last line of The Smashing Pumpkins’ melancholic song (Simons’ favourite apparently) goes: “Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight, tonight.” Parting words from one of the greatest designers right now? I’d like to think so. See you soon, Raf.
Words Sabrina Shim