The menswear collection shown in Milan on Saturday — the first collection German-born Sander has designed for her own label in eight years — had the undeniable minimalist touch which characterizes the eponymous label founded in 1968.
The collection was prim, proper and precise. Pristine white shirts paired with an elongated jacket and slim trousers, both in dark Jil blue, graphic printed T-shirts in fabric just stiff enough to keep them from looking sloppy and classic two-tone lace-up shoes made up the summer look.
"It's good to be at home again," the designer told The Associated Press backstage after the much applauded show — the first of the four-day preview Milan menswear shows for summer 2013.
In the label's stormy history — Sander left her company twice in the past 12 years — other designers tried their hand at her style, but no matter how creative, they were never quite able to match her very personal minimalism.
The last of these was Belgian designer Raf Simons, who bowed out after his rave review women's collection last February, just as Sander was announcing her return. In April Simons was named creative director at Dior.
"We want to keep our integrity and go back to our roots," said the 68-year old designer, dressed in a crisp white shirt and navy slacks. Off the runway rumours had her unhappy with the flashier turn the label had taken.
And yet her interim years, some spent designing for the low cost but trendy Japanese Uniglo chain, seem to have relaxed her tastes.
The latest sleeveless jacket is really an elongated vest. Bermuda shorts in ultra-light wool are cut with precision but shaped like surfing trunks. Classic footwear sports a trendy colored sole.
Speaking of colour, the once black and navy palette has been invaded for next summer by bright shades of ochre yellow, granite red and cobalt blue and particularly warm beige. No matter what the style, the fabrics are, as usual, exquisite.
Overall the look is about the kind of boy mamma likes: nice and neat, although it is a pity Sander allowed her clean-shaven models to walk the runway wearing dark ankle socks with their Bermuda shorts.