by Stephen Garner

Jil Sander debuted an intimate, sharp, layered, and utilitarian fall/winter 2021 menswear collection this weekend as part of Paris Fashion Week Men’s.

This season we discover an inspiring wardrobe of suits, coats, and knitwear in exaggerated proportions. Designed to clearly separate the figure from its background, the collection is a balance of opposites at the core of creative directors Lucie and Luke Meier’s work.

Photographic portraits of women artists and designers of the Bauhaus art movement that Florence Henri shot in the 1920s, abstract, modern, and sensitive at the same time, have been enlarged and printed on canvas and sewn onto tailored jackets and coats, and knitwear. Silver necklaces with the hand-written word “Mother” declare the importance of kinship – now more than ever. The high necks of coats are fastened by jewel buttons or a shell. A large silver plastron made of simple geometric forms, an ancestral armor, worn over soft jumpers synthesize the reciprocity of strength and vulnerability that the Meier’s consistently suggest.

The handmade and the technical seamlessly merge. Pristine suits in sharp dry wool, with straight elongated jackets, with zipped pockets, and cropped or narrow trousers, are worn with pullover knits, instead of shirts. Knee-length boots with strong treaded soles, in black pastels or lilac, firmly anchor the silhouette, which is generally more voluminous at the top and slender at the bottom. When shirts appear, they are knitted or fluid and oversized.

The uniform-inspired coats and trenches, in Tuscan double-faced wool or in coated, waterproof cotton, are either graphic and fitted, with invisible buttons and no lapels, or find a striking new balance with exaggerated collars and pocket flaps. A double-breasted coat, in enlarged plaid hazy wool, stands simultaneously for noncompliance and home.

Soft, experimental, hand-made, and extremely refined, knitwear is a key element of the collection. Sharp graphic coloring contrasts rich knit structures. Contrast – tone intarsia gives depth to warm cashmere sweaters. Connections are delicate, detailed, textured, tactile.

Bags in flat, sharp belted forms lend geometry and shine and are integrated as part of the silhouette. Plump soft nappa leather forms add a domestic pillowy comfort. Squared tote bags in natural leathers offer functional yet luxurious grounding.

The hues and nuances of the color palette are rich, and shift from the natural to the utilitarian: off-white, butter, light mint green, sand, beige, and cocoa contrast, and complement lilac, lipstick, mauve, iron, lemon, navy, and black.