Rain. More rain. Heavy rain. Fortunately, Milan doesn’t tend to flood as easily as some Italian cities, but that doesn’t prevent water from pooling at inconvenient places and a surprising number of people left their umbrellas behind this afternoon. This was the perfect day to see a collection full of overcoats. I don’t know if Jil Sander’s creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga has any control over the weather, but one has to admit the damp conditions certainly made some of the pieces more appealing in an immediate sense.
Rodolfo has obviously settled in after a few seasons at Jil Sander and slowly critics and shoppers are starting to take to his more severe aesthetic and unadorned style of design. There were still a few comments here and there about the line lacking warmth or visible signs of passion, but I think such sentiment comes from not fully understanding the austere approach Rodolfo takes to designing for women. He hasn’t time for nonsense or anything unnecessary and knows that for most women, especially professional women, such discretionary time is at a minimum. The current Jil Sander woman wants good quality clothes and wants to look good wearing them, but she doesn’t have time for anything that requires special care, extra attention, or is particularly difficult to wear.
So, we start with a simple but sharply tailored winter white trench coat with black gloves. What follows is a collection of generous cuts, plenty of coats, and a creative approach to creating shape. Very quickly into the collection, Rodolfo introduces us to a skirt designed to come all the way up to just under the bust. The visual effect looks at first as though the model is wearing some kind of wrap, but not, it’s all part of this tailored skirt that creates a feminine shape without requiring corseting or some other uncomfortable contraption. Other times he gives us full cut and wooly tunics while also making room for metallic sheaths and sheer, pleated skirts with the tiniest ruffle along the hem.
If there is a surprise in this collection, it is the frequency with which Rodolfo uses metallics in this collection. We also noted the contrast of some collars being very high and large, even to the point of being stiff and column structured while others were soft and plunging. There are some very creative choices here if one looks carefully at the silhouette and doesn’t dismiss it too quickly.
Italian designers have strongly rejected selling pieces right off the runway, but if they were to do so the silver raincoat from this collection would have been a best seller this afternoon. With all the turmoil this brand has seen, having a strong best seller like that wouldn’t be a bad move for the company. Sales have yet to really pick up and while part of that can be blamed on the global economy, the fact is a lot of people still don’t grasp where Rodolfo is headed with the line. A strong best-selling piece would be welcome about now. The brand can weather this rain with no problem, but if it continues to drizzle on the retail market company leadership may be ready to make a switch very soon.