As beautiful as the seven bouquets arranged in perspex cases were (they're the handiwork of Antwerp-based florist Marc Calle apparently), they felt needlessly funereal at Raf Simons' finale show for Jil Sander today. I suppose they could be celebratory as well, with each bouquet representing a year of Simons' tenure at Jil Sander. The final standing ovation and the tears, genuine on the part of Simons, weirdly false when it came to certain members of the audience, too contributed to the atmosphere where we felt pressurised to mourn the loss of Simons. Was I the only one that was a little giddy, feeling like this finale was brimming with possibility?
Yes, it is an end of an era but it's also the beginning of an exciting trajectory of Simons' career. Wherever he goes or does will still be hugely influential to fashion, as his contribution to Jil Sander has been for the past seven years. I guess I never saw Raf Simons, as someone who was deadlocked to the brand of Jil Sander, despite the magnificent work he has done there and instead, he could well leave an influential imprint at two or three more places should he wish. Not that there I'm saying the show should have been devoid of emotion but let's tone down the dramatics and start anticipating what's around the corner – Raf Simons is well and alive and has the ability to take his skill and vision and apply them to any number of houses in addition to continue doing so for his own brand (Raf Simons womenswear – imagine that eh?). It is an end of sorts but also a new beginning for Simons as well as for Jil Sander, which will see the return of the brand's founder. Something else to get excited about.
The collection itself was in fact a delicate continuation of what Simons has been exploring for the past three seasons – exploring mid twentieth century couture through a sharply finessed looking glass. The delicacy of lingerie-inspired palette steered clear from what's going on in the rest of the season and had most of us swooning at how Simons had progressed to a point where he's comfortable with conveying ultra femininity in his work. It was difficult to get away from the Dior allusions, especially in the use of gravity defying volume, best seen in the coats that the models clutched together at the chest and in the gathers of fabric around the hip in synthesised corset dresses. If we have been reading it correctly, that Simons has been "auditioning" for the creative director role at Dior and if it is to be that Avenue Montaigne will indeed be his next workplace, then we can get REALLY excited about what's around the corner. Imagine some of these dresses in a Dior show.
I'll stop at that wild speculation and say that I also did find myself reminiscing over some of the key moments of Simons' collections for Jil Sander – the S/S 08 sunset colours, the ripped textures of S/S 10, the flat boots and short shift dresses proposed in A/W 10-11 and then the onslaught of stellar collections from S/S 11 to S/S 12. These collections filtered down to real shifts in the way women dressed and there is no doubt that Simons will continue creating these shifts. This show wasn't an adieu, but an au revoir, as in we'll be seeing Simons again.