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Jil Sander returns with 1st womenswear collection

MILAN — Jil Sander has returned, and it shows.

No more dabbling into romantic or experimental styles, as happened when the label was in the creative hands of Raf Simons. It's back to minimalist basics for the 68-year-old German designer.

Black is black white is white, a jacket is a jacket, a blouse is a blouse, and a skirt or trouser is a skirt or trouser. After founding the company in the late 1960s she came and left it several times before taking it back in spring 2012, and showing her first menswear in June.

The warm applause Saturday at the end of her spring-summer 2013 collection — her first womenswear line since returning to her eponymous label — showed the fashion crowd was glad to have her back. After the show however, some were overheard saying they missed Raf.

The Belgian designer has since gone on to Dior, taking the place of John Galliano, who left the maison in disgrace more than a year ago.

For her women's comeback debut, Sander concentrated on volume games, creating an interplay between abundance and fittedness, often showing a slim back paired with a bold front. As usual, she only used fabric of the highest quality.

Along with different forms to choose from, ranging from tapered to conic, from straight up and down to sculpted and curvy, the collection was highly wearable.

Streamlined jackets and coats with three-quarter sleeves and oversized pockets, crisp white blouses, stiff below the knee A-line skirts and more easygoing high-waisted Gaucho pants, all combine to create an ultra-clean cut look. Dresses decorated with shiny, albeit discreet, rubberized discs add a little jazz.

The color palette of course was minimalist — black, white and navy with dashes of plum, bright orange and red, just to quiet critics who claim minimalist means bland.

Footwear too was a little more adventurous with high-heeled two-tone jodhpur booties zipped up the back. To go with the sobriety of the look the models wore their long hair parted in the middle and neatly gathered at the neck.

As if to ensure the minimalist point would get across, Sander took her runway bow, wearing a white shirt under a black pant suit, accessorized by flat black lace-up shoes.