Jil Sander and Raf Simons have quickly become the most popular conversation points during Milan fashion week following news that Simons will step down from his position after tomorrow's A/W12 show, to be replaced by the label's founder. Rumours continue as to whether Simons will further his women's designs at Dior, as do comments from his peers: Miuccia Prada told The New York Times she was "shocked" and "more surprised" of Sander's (soon to be announced) return.
Then, what better time to consider Simons' penultimate collection for S/S12? Described post-show by the designer as the "final instalment of his couture trilogy" (an early indication that his tenure may be nearing its end, perhaps?), the 48-look collection incorporated his take on the white cotton shirt, postwar inspired two-pieces, digital paisley prints and a succession of "bridal" gowns. Watching the show, there were three key pieces that would clearly become the iconic pieces from the collection: veiled beanies courtesy of Stephen Jones, the Picasso-inspired knits and the crystal brooches and earrings.
The jewellery took its influence from the late Grace Kelly, as did the models' blonde, short, curled-under hair. As a stalwart minimalist, Simons was restrained in his use of jewellery, clipping them to a few of the models' ears or pinching the waist or small of the back. It was as successful as his earring collaboration with Damiani in S/S09 – striking gold spears with diamonds or semiprecious stones attached at either end. The S/S12 earrings were a half moon shape, worn by Jessica Chastain on the cover of the new issue of AnOther Magazine, and the brooches were circular.
"Simons has remained loyal to the DNA of the house, melding it carefully with his own unique creativity and minimalism, enabling Jil Sander to become a modern, exciting, covetable and commercially successful brand"
Invited to interpret the brooch for AnOther's latest Object of Desire, photographer Hana Muze was initially inspired by the piece's sparkle. "They are beautiful objects and timeless because they also appear like everyday items, and I wanted to translate this", she told AnOther. "All the elements of the photograph were created from the jewellery, the background was made by an out of focus view of the jewellery, and the object itself re-imagined into an eternal ring of precious jewels."
Its seems wholly appropriate to consider Simons' brilliant work at the house of Jil Sander. Since his first women's collection in March 2006, he has remained loyal to the DNA of the house, melding it carefully with his own unique creativity and minimalism, enabling Jil Sander to become a modern, exciting, covetable and commercially successful label. He knows how to get a certain woman excited turning out eye-popping shirt and mini-skirt combos, silk black fringing across figure-hugging navy dresses, graphic cut-out wedges. His collections are a pleasure to digest: there are always a handful of key pieces that create a buzz; on closer inspection, countless pieces that one would want in their wardrobe; and then a fascinating list of references to consider, in particular those derived from the world of art and architecture.
Now, all we have to wonder is what will be Simons' Swan song...
Text by Laura Bradley