Milan – Prada Group said Thursday it appointed Belgian designer Raf Simons to be creative director for Jil Sander.

Simons, who takes over July 1, will be in charge of the men’s and women’s collections, starting with fall winter 2006-2007. He will supervise a seasoned design team that delivered a solid collection for this fall, melding the brand’s sense of calm elegance, neutral palette and geometric silhouettes.

Sander in November left the company that bears her name for the second time in four years because of reported clashes with Prada chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli.

For the 13 months ending Dec. 31, Jil Sander’s net loss increased to 29.6 million euros, or $37 million, and sales totaled 153.1 million euros, or $191.4 million.

Simons, who will be embracing women’s fashion for the first time, said in a statement: “I couldn’t be happier to work for a brand as pure and clean as Jil Sander. I am eager to carry forward the simple and pristine design…There is a strong affinity between how I perceive my own design and the core values that the Jil Sander brand embraces.”

Simons will continue designing his namesake menswear collection, shuttling between Antewerp, where he is based, Hamburg, the base for part of the Jil Sander production and Milan. — Alessandra Ilari

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