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Who can fill the gap left by Jil Sander?

I feel like I have written this article before. Jil Sander has left her eponymous label and simultaneously set the creative director game of musical chairs in motion again.

Déjà vu, right? With the rumour Nicolas Ghesquière is in pole position to step into Marc Jacobs’ shoes at Louis Vuitton now going off the boil, the focus momentarily shifts from Paris to Milan and Jil Sander HQ.

Sander has left for unspecified personal reasons, barely 18 months after returning to the brand she set up 45 years ago. She picked up the baton from Mr Raf Simons, who hasn’t exactly done badly for himself since leaving the company to become creative director at Christian Dior. Simons’ work recontextualised what the Jil Sander brand was and took it beyond just the severe minimalism on which its reputation was built.

On coming back in February last year, Sander found herself at the helm of a brand that, while not completely unrecognisable, had definitely had a facelift. With Simons receiving rave reviews both for his final collections at Jil Sander and his first few for Dior, it can’t have been easy for Sander to pick things up again after an eight-year hiatus, her Uniqlo project aside.

However, she seemed to make a good fist of it, embracing some colour and pattern in an attempt to keep the brand modern, but ultimately I always felt Sander’s recent collections weren’t quite the purest expressions of her uncompromising aesthetic. And when your signature is strict and exact, breaking out and doing a jazzy floral because the marketing bods say everyone’s doing it would be all the more alien. Simons was the perfect choice in 2005 but I’m at a loss for another designer that is similarly talented and passionate about the plain and precise to take the label on now.

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