Unless all of the fashion-fascinated money guys, luxury ceo’s,retailers andwell-heeled women who claim to love fashion are crazy,Raf Simons is going to bejust fine. Because he is, quite simply, oneof the world’s very best designers.He creates some of the mostinnovative, provocative and chic clothes out there.And, oh yes, did wemention wearable? If his aesthetic can’t thrive in theindustry’scurrent reality, then fashion has become, like U.S. politics, way toopolarized — the luxury giants dominant at one end, feisty fast (andcheap)fashion at the other, with serious alternative voices strugglingto be allowedto stand for something nobler than brand-building.

OnSaturday afternoon,Simons closed his Jil Sander chapter (as the house’sfounder prepares for herreturn) with a tour de force, one that provedhow captivating calm clothes canbe. Arriving at the white space thatlast season transformed so magically into acolorful rock garden,audience members found the set anchored by six largesquare pillars,white on the bottom and acrylic on top, where they were filledwithdense arrangements of 65 flower varieties — orchids, roses, tulips —doneby Mark Colle of Antwerp. One could not miss the contrast of theirromantic,even retro, abundance with the spare, minimalist casings.

Whilethe bouquetsdefinitely heralded pretty (and the notion of modernityinformed by the past),their preserved look might have signaled amournful collection. Not at all.Rather, Simons made his final Sanderstatement one of positive beauty, gentleand refined. He opened withdouble-faced clutch coats (literally — the girlsgrasped the fabricclosed) — pale pink and dove gray, tobacco and bright pink —with theunmistakable air of late-Fifties couture. He then went into a veritabledissertation on innovating the lingerie reference. Though intricatelyconstructed, dresses, many in powdery makeup shades, combined tones andtextureswith visual ease. (The knits amazed.) Even substantial foldsof PVC lookedlovely rather than aggressive. The elegance continued atnight withbare-shoulder beauties, both dresses and pants. 

Asfor the couture aura,Simons has worked such inspiration for severalseasons. Intentionally or not, hesigned off from Sander with themessage that he could pull off not only eleganteveningwear but hautewith the currency to work by day.

And on the way out,he didn’tdo Jil Sander (the person) any favors.

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