MFW SS20: Jil Sander

AT THE Jil Sander SS20 show, Luke and Lucie Meier made a sartorial case for the axiom that opposites attract. Held at Milan’s Accademia di Brera, which was transformed into a serene temple of contemplation thanks to the installation of undulating sand dunes, the show was perhaps the husband-and-wife designer duo at their strongest. The minimalist codes of Jil Sander can sometimes fall victim to being too minimalist, projecting a sense of aloofness and alienation. However, the Meiers succeeded in injecting into the cold codes of minimalism a sense whimsy, soul and warmth.

Sometimes the human touch is all that is needed for fashion to make a connection, and this was indeed the Meier’s modus operandi this season. Take for instance, the raffia fringe detailing that adorned the hemlines of dresses and the lapels of structured jackets and coats; the simple shift dress — a reliable weapon in the minimalist’s arsenal — that was made maximalist through the addition of a dramatic fringe cape and an intricately crocheted body; the lattice-work that made otherwise done-before looks far more interesting. Although the shapes at Jil Sander were simple, they were contrasted with complicated and highly-detailed handiwork, a human touch that made each look pieces of extremely covetable art.

While most of the collection centred on the typical Jil Sander-esque tones of cream, navy and black, this was tempered through the addition of majestic olive and burgundy shades as well as the occasional bright yellow. These unexpected hues made their appearance sporadically throughout collection, either as full-blown monochromatic outfits, or as splashes of colour in an abstract print inspired by Florentine paper marbling and hippie psychedelia.

Swallows were embroidered on dresses while bodies and fish were drawn on draped silk, all odes to Viennese secession movement and the 60s counterculture of San Francisco. These prints were presented as small doses, quietly accentuating sharp tailoring and fluid gowns — a welcome element of surprise for a brand so normally associated with clean and solid colours.

The sense of whimsy espoused by these prints definitely lingered as well in the choice of accessories — see especially the palm-sized seashell that a somberly-dressed model clutches in her hand in lieu of a bag, demonstrating that the brand is obviously not against eschewing practicality for some good fashion fun every now and then. While minimalism often calls to mind a classic, trend-transcendant aesthetic that may veer into the realm of boring or trite, the Meiers’ take on this is anything but.

by Kay Ean Leong