Challenging clothes — thank God! Because fashion needs challenge.Often when clothes appear demanding on the runway it’s the result ofsavvy styling that adds detachable outrage to tried-and-truesilhouettes.

Not so at Jil Sander, where Raf Simons deliveredanother stunner, one all about cut, shape and zero models — onlypanache. Simons’ boldest gestures are genuine proposal rather than ruse.He started from the couture sensibility of spring, but here invoked theprecision bravado of Sixties haute in a lineup focused firmly ondaywear. Two lean black stirrup-pant looks introduced a chic ski motifanchored by techno-pinhead hooded sweaters — part of a major knit storythat included abstract intarsias and waffled pullovers. He then statedhis expansion plan. The clothes were, well, big, sometimes shockinglyso, cut in dense, solid, bold-toned fabrics with considerableself-structure. Simons amped the volume with a broadened droppedshoulder that fell into neat folds in back. He used this technique forcoats and dresses, and while he sometimes contained the shape with loosehalf-belts in front or back, he never disguised it. Rather, he foundalternate ways to expand, even puffing up some dresses and separateswith down.

Difficult? Most girth-enhancing ideas are. Volume isnot an easy sell these days, nor can everyone wear it. Ditto solidblocks of brights. No matter how much fashion professionals might invokethe need for color, seeing someone in neck-to-knee marigold orfire-engine red tends to startle. By working his collection around majorvolume and bold color (along with gorgeous teal, gray and black),Simons is taking a firm stance against mass luxury. High fashion, he’ssuggesting, needs some high-mindedness. Here, here.

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