Some of the best looks on the Milan runways reinforced a revitalized minimalist message, from austere coats to supple jackets to low-key dresses. But they weren't the only game in town -- feminine, bohemian looks were in play, too.

Bottega Veneta: Since joining Bottega Veneta in 2001, creative director Tomas Maier has been a man on a mission. These days, the label, a major winner in Gucci Group's pack, is plenty profitable, and it's easy to see why. Maier's fall collection was full of instantly covetable clothes that demanded neither a leap of faith nor a leap of the imagination. Maier opened the show with a double-breasted shearling coat that emitted an air of offhand grandeur, and he flaunted his expert tailoring throughout. Jackets were cut neat and curvy and came paired with classic pants or elegant skirts in supple tweeds. As a trend, minimalism is gaining momentum in Milan, and Maier's clean lines never looked so right, even when applied to his more daring looks, such as a crinkled silver coat with bauble buttons. The collection, on the whole, was an exercise in sophisticated proportions and luxe understatement.

Maier's plaid madness, however, was another story. As they say, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's — or, in other words, leave the tartans to the Brits. These goofy looks and a few ballgowns that hung heavily from chain-link straps lacked the simple — make that deceptively simple — elegance of Maier's tailored best.

Jil Sander: Will the house of Jil Sander rise again? Based on the debut collection he showed on Monday, Raf Simons seems to have the goods and then some. The clothes were exquisite, channeling to a stunning degree the monastic serenity on which Sander built her business, before she acquired an artsier bent. Yet that very similarity raises questions that go to the core of any serious conversation about a Sander renaissance: All appreciation for minimalism notwithstanding, is the time right for a vision so pure, so stripped down, so plain? Is that original customer still out there? If not, will a new one emerge to replace her?

In an interview with DNR earlier this month, Simons said it was not his intention to try to out-Sander Sander. “I thought it was better to not go too much into the memory of Jil Sander,” he said. Yet this collection was eerily Sanderesque: the austere coats, the way a skirt fell just so on the hips when paired with a crisp shirt; the quietly graceful dresses, and, grounding it all, statement shoes, unattractive ones, at that. It felt as if we had seen it before, only now, the extreme austerity felt a bit costumey.

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