09/20/2014 02:02 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:03 EDT

Paglialunga makes Jil Sander debut with androgynous looks that don't belabour minimalism

MILAN - Rodolfo Paglialunga, who made his debut Saturday as creative director at Jil Sander, said he didn't need to go through the archives for inspiration. Nor was he burdened by brand's the minimalist label.

"I knew very well Jil Sander, because I grew up looking at her. I didn't want to make a copy of a Jil Sander look," Paglialunga said backstage after the show on the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week. "I did something simple and wearable. I didn't think minimalist or not."

The looks were androgynous with strong references to school uniforms both in form — with sturdy gabardine and poplin materials — and in strong mascot-friendly colours like maroon, navy and sky blue.

The brand's DNA was probably best expressed by the collection's clean lines. Long blouses were tucked into belted, high-waisted skirts, wide pants doubled as skirts and jumper dresses were slit open to reveal the hem of a shirtdress.

Instead of the classic knee sock, the looks were paired with zip-up napa leather socks, worn with squared-off sandals. Hair was slicked back, and models wore a single earring.

Paglialunga said the androgynous looks were inspired by recent pushes to recognize neutral as a third gender.

"I didn't want it to be masculine or feminine. I wanted to work on sexual identity," the designer said.

The fashion crowd was appreciative, applauding wildly for curtain calls as if at the theatre.

Paglialunga, the former creative director of Vionnet and womenswear designer at Prada, took his first Jil Sander bows nearly a year after the German designer departed the eponymous brand for the third time.