The debut of a new designer at an august fashion house is alway a momentous occasion, particularly for a brand like Jil Sander which has taken a bit of a beating over the past few years. In Milan this week, designer Rodolfo Paglialunga, who was tapped to be the new creative director of Sander back in April, finally made his grand debut at the house. Unfortunately he is off to a rather rocky start.
Apparently Paglialunga wanted to explore the idea of gender neutrality with his first show. Smart choice. After all, the founder made her reputation off of streamlined minimalistic fashion that put men and women on an equal sartorial footing.
But this designer's attempt at androgyny came across as heavy handed. Proportions felt off. Wide city shorts looked dumpy, particularly when paired with sagging knee-high socks and orthopedic sandals. A sweatshirt with a vertical ruffle up the arms was overly fussy. And cropped jackets were cut at an unflattering length.
Paglialunga also worked with the concept of exposing skin. Here again the wrap skirts, the alternative to those bulky shorts, had an inherent stiffness in the fabric. Add to this the fact that most of the skirts barely made it all the way around the models waists and it translated a disconnect between the desire of the designer and that of modern women. Ditto the blouses that were slit open both in the front and at the back. Apparently to dress in an androgynistic way is only allowed for women who clock in at an A cup or less.
Perhaps the answer for Paglialunga is to forget everything that came before him, start with a clean slate and make this house a reflection of his own unique vision. Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, Raf Simons at Dior and Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton are three great examples of how staying true to one's personal design aesthetic can quickly revitalize a established luxury brand.