And Jil is back, sorta

by Mikelle S

Jil Sander is back at her eponymous label Jil Sander, again.

It was with that bit of cynicism, that with a grain of salt approach, that many of us took the now over-60 designer’s return to the catwalk after the somewhat hasty dismissal of one Belgian Raf Simons.  But what do you expect from us? She’s been gone for seven years and he has taken not only the brand but the industry to places and levels that few can: why should we welcome her back with open arms?

But she has returned, and we must deal with it, so deal we have.

For her first collection back Sander seemed to do more than falter. Flipping through the collection one could liken it to a neophyte at an established house, stumbling to find their way. Jil is now a visitor in her own home! She finds herself almost fighting with a house that while familiar, certainly isn’t the way that she left it.

The collection manifests itself in what seems to be a conversation, one where there are two – possibly – three voices, neither one listening to the other. Proportions slim down and are no-nonsense at one point nodding to the former designer who is now sculpting away in the atelier of Christian Dior, preparing for his couture debut, while at others they seem to round, and gain a bit of curvature that I can only peg as a bit feminine. And then there’s the third voice. It’s small, but certainly still there. It’s a bit of a sensible voice, a bit more on the simplistic side than minimal. It’s without a doubt the voice that has developed in Jil’s – the designer – work for the past 3 years. It’s the voice of Uniqlo.

Only time will tell which voice will win out or if a stronger, newer voice will emerge. But for Sander’s sake, I hope that the maturity happens sooner rather than later as there are two other strong voices in menswear to contest with from outside of her own label, and one with a bone to pick.