MFW Diary: The good, the glam, and Raf Simons’ heavenly last collection for Jil Sander

Jil Sander collection and designer Raf Simons shot by Peter Stigter

Day four in Milan was a flurry of shows and showroom visits (Bottega Veneta, Emporio Armani, Sportmax, Jil Sander, Giuseppe Zanotti, and more). After eight hours on the beat, dissecting trends and trying to dodge the post-show crush, I’ve compiled a set of fashion crib notes just for you.

THE GOOD: Sportmax’s Fall collection of luxe body armour played up the sport theme in a big way. Textured fabrics and combinations of 3-D materials (quilted nylon, padded embroidery) gave classic tailored coats a cool edge. Metallic snaps dotted skirts, while exposed zippers snaked down everything from bomber jackets to wedge boots. Standouts included the dark pony hair skirts, the high-necked ski sweaters, and the maxi leather waistcoats cinched with judo belts.

THE NEW GLAM: Strict precision and elegant polish reigned supreme at Bottega Veneta this season. “The look is covered up and the materials are virtually impenetrable, yet the effect is powerfully physical,” said Tomas Maier, creative director of the brand. Streamlined daywear (think sharp skirt suits and body-skimming dresses and pencil skirts with demi-peplums) dominated the runway in a rich palette of black, maroon, blue, and forest green. For evening, Maier cranked up the drama with a variety of velvet gowns, some laser-cut, some heavy on embroidery and embellishment, but all drop dead gorgeous.

THE HEAVENLY:  The moment the first look hit the runway at Jil Sander—a pale pink coat­­ so perfect, so spare—it was clear that Raf Simons’ final collection for this house was going to be a quiet masterpiece. Double-face coats ranged from pale pink to ivory and pale rose to hot pink. A white strapless gown boasted a razor-sharp slit up the back; a navy-blue, off-the-shoulder jumpsuit included a diamond-shaped cutout; and a collarless black blazer, so exact in its execution, featured a chicer-than-chic new sleeve length (just above the wrist). Fabrics seamlessly moved back and forth between matte and glossy, while shoes beamed subtle shots of neon brights. It was a collection worthy of a standing O, and it got one. Raf took his runway bow to loud cheers but we wanted more. He came out a second time, teary and flushed, to shouts of “Bravo!” It was the moment of the day, and surely will be the defining moment of Milan Fashion Week this season.