Sander shows touch of radical chic

Click to follow
TO JIL SANDER, a trouser suit is not simply a jacket and a pair of trousers, but a source of constant fascination and infinitesimal changes. In that, the German designer, who showed in Milan yesterday, is like so many women who know that a certain placing of pockets, pleats, and buttons; or a centimetre longer here, shorter there, can make all the difference to flattering clothes.

Sander is the favourite of low-key, high-earning European businesswomen. They are devoted to her navy, slim and single- breasted trouser suit, to her tauped trousers and double-breasted jackets that change just a little each season. These women will not be disappointed by slubby, flecked grey trouser suits or versions in watercolour-soft apricot, the latter brightened up with tangerine slim belts and matching shoes.

She is one of the few designers showing in Milan who is obsessed with real clothes for grown-up women (albeit rather wealthy ones) and not by retrostyling. But even so, she nodded to the trends that are sweeping Milan; the black satin Seventies Le Smoking suit, the wet- look fabrics; the to-the-knee skirt.

The more original items in her predominantly muted modern collection were tight, slightly shrunken jackets teamed with what looked like exaggerated jogging pants in some kind of papery taffeta (Sander's fabrics are always tricky to identify).

Her loyal business customers won't buy these, but they will appeal to her more radical customers, the kind Sander is currently wooing away from the often frighteningly avant-garde Japanese designers (who will show next week in Paris).

In the past, it has been said that Sander is the German Armani. Recent collections have seen her edging closer to becoming something of a European Rei Kawakubo, the radical designer behind the Comme des Garcons, who never worries if she frightens the horses.

(Photograph omitted)