Milan Fashion Week: Jil Sander and Miuccia Prada - influential women on Milan's catwalks
As Raf Simons announces he is leaving Jil Sander, speculation is rife around Sander returning to the label she founded - and all this whilst Milan's most influential female designer Muccia Prada shows her latest offering.
Could Dior finally be about to announce a replacement for John Galliano? It's a year since the British designer was fired - a long time for such a prominent brand to remain faceless. Then yesterday, suddenly a suprise statement said that Raf Simons was leaving Jil Sander, the label where he has worked for the past seven years.
Simons, who for months has been front-runner to take the Dior post, will present his final collection for Jil Sander tomorrow in Milan.
The news ended weeks of speculation on Twitter, but immediately sparked fresh rumours that Jil Sander herself would return to the helm of the eponymous house she founded in 1968.
Now aged 68, the German Sander walked away from her label twice. Once when it was sold to the Prada Group, and again, shortly after Prada enticed her back: artistic differences were the least of it. She then took her minimalist aesthetic and beautifully understated tailoring to the Japanese high street chain Uniqlo where each collection was rapturously greeted by fashionistas, although it's unclear how well it sold to Uniqlo's broader clientele. Last winter it was discontinued.
Sander's distinctive cutting and draping made the women wearing her clothes feel powerful and she's considered a fashion visionary. Raf Simons proved a worthy successor. Another minimalist with an artist's feel for colour, his has been one of the strongest voices in fashion in the past few years. His name might not be widely known, but neon, ruffles and volume - all trends that made a big impact on the high street - began on his catwalks.
If Sander returns she'll double the number of influential women on Milan's catwalks, the other being Miuccia Prada, whose eagerly anticipated collection showed last night in a display of commercial might.
The models' dip dyed hair and Tiger-Who-Came-to-Tea eye make-up was characteristically quirky, so were the rubber coated platform Mary Jane shoes. "Practical for winter," said Miuccia Prada backstage, although she almost slipped up when she took her bow in them.
But these were the whimsical touches. All those trouser suits, with their cute kick flares, cropped just above all those elegant ankles, and high waisted jackets and coats will walk right out of the store, even if they end up being bought in the black versions, rather than the clashing geometric prints, one of which was vintage Prada.
Jewel embellishments replicated the geometric prints. "The first few outfits were all black, " said Prada, who was, unusually, dressed in black herself, "but after five minutes you're bored with black".
Black looks set to return to favour next winter however. Not that Prada cares to be seen pandering to the bottom line. "Apparently women are buying far fewer jackets; they only want dresses," she shrugged.
There were almost no dresses here. But while the designer confessed that she struggled to make beautiful clothes "that didn't look obviously expensive, because that's so obvious," the Chinese buyers, who occupy more and more bench space at each passing show, looked delighted with those lavishly crafted separates.