Move over, New York. Milan just had a fringe festival of its own, and it was spectacular. Raf Simons showed a quiet stunner at Jil Sander, one in which disparate inspirations — the Twenties, African tribal adornment, Brancusi — were integrated with reassuring deftness into a treatise on chic.
Simons opened with a not-for-everyone (but then, what is?) catsuit under a dress of shimmery fringe that was festooned rather than free-swinging. The message: sultry, controlled sexuality. Of course, the show’s subtlety aside, when these clothes make it off the runway and, knock wood, onto to some high-profile red carpets, there’ll be a whole lot of va-voom going on. But isn’t it good to know that va-voom doesn’t have to be vulgar? Simons proved that point over and over as he worked his fringe fancy in an exposed midriff sheath, a cowl-back mini, a pair of fly-away gowns. He also translated it to his tailoring, as in a white suit, perfectly proper coming but going, wonderfully strung. Throughout, those smart tailored clothes featured multiple slits, slashes and floating panels while focusing on shorts suits.
The show’s other big news, which editors couldn’t stop talking about: Jil Sander’s new jewelry collection in collaboration with Damiani. When is the last time you saw really new looking earrings? Not earrings to love; there’s plenty of fabulous jewelry out there. But inventive earrings are few and far between. Inspired by tribal body decoration, Simons’ featured a thin rod of gold protruding from both sides of the ear, and dangling various gems including mesmerizing black diamonds. True, they call for ponytails only, and one or two had the look of a pop singer’s mic, but you had to love them for their beauty and sly daring, just like the clothes.