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Raf Simons Deconstructs Jil Sander

Godfrey Deeny
September 26th, 2009 @ 00:17 AM - Milan

Deconstruction, which is not a fashion concept one normally associates with the minimalist aesthetic of the label Jil Sander, was nonetheless the theme of the Spring 2010 collection from this house presented Friday night, Sept. 25, in Milan.

Sander’s creative director Raf Simons made his point perfectly clear even before a model appeared on the catwalk. From the ceiling of the show space hung a series of screens projecting art movies and documentaries, like Christo’s famed “The Running Fence,” about visually reinventing northern California by means of a giant fabric wall.

Hems were frayed, pockets seemingly hacked out randomly with scissors, and dresses were haphazardly covered with rough swatches of material. Most looks were layered, but unevenly, allowing lots of flesh to peak through the clothes in erratic and unlikely places.

In effect, this was the first show in Europe to address the havoc in the global economy, and its destruction of jobs and careers even if it did so obliquely and with the suggestion that the best way to handle the continuing downturn is by artistic expression, not just knuckling down to work.

But the net result on the runway was, to most viewers, light years away from the cool patrician understatement of the Jil Sander label. Not that the show lacked invention – Simons even came up with a whole new garment – a safari jacket meets coat dress that had great authority, the sort of thing only a great tailor like this designer could imagine and successfully pull off. But just as the images featured buildings broken down and dismantled, so the clothes looked like they were half taken apart just before the show.

And if you were left in any doubt about Simons’ intention, the video screened at the finale made it all abundantly transparent – the famous finale of Michelangelo Antonioni’s counterculture sixties classic “Zabriskie Point,” which climaxes with slow-motion nine minute long explosion. Like the movie, this collection exploded the house’s accepted DNA.

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