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Milan Fashion Week – Jil, Prada and critics

As attendees decamped to Paris, Milan’s designers had criticism ringing in their ears. But was it justified?

Strangely for the nonna of world fashion, this instalment of Milan Fashion Week felt fresh, young even. Colour was zingy, print was playful and uplifting and silhouettes swayed from flirty and feminine to sophisticated and sexy.

There was also a sense of new beginnings. Jil Sander presented her first womenswear collection since returning to the house she set up in 1968. Despite having her name over the door, to follow the Raf Simons era in which the Belgian had taken Sander’s minimal formula and recontextualised it in a beautiful and considered way is no small undertaking. Succeeding one of the most, if not the most, talented designers in the world right now (a bold statement, I know), Sander was almost on a hiding to nothing. This was borne out by initial reactions that varied from respect for the designer’s unwavering dedication to her sparse aesthetic to condemnation for not having moved with the times. I was rather taken with it, but then I am a huge advocate of the minimalist and modernist movements, so Jil Sander and Cos are naturally right up my Bauhaus building-lined strasse.

At Prada, the snazzy carpets and star-studded walkers of autumn were replaced with a dark, sultry and stripped-back show for spring. Twitter was afire with fanboys and detractors. I think this will be a grower but I worry about the fur pieces and heavy colour jarring against those of other labels in the bursting wardrobes of luxury fans. Plus, it won’t half look depressing and boring in store.

But in a way it’s irrelevant what criticism or praise is heaped on a collection as long as the designers know and understand their customers. And if they want a crisp white shirt or Japanese flatform sandals we should let Jil Sander and Miuccia Prada get on with it.

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