Anyone who says fashion is for the young hasn't followed Jil Sander's career.
The 68-year-old designer is about to do what some thought was impossible. She is retaking the helm at her own brand, which she furiously left twice after the Prada Group assumed control in 1999. Between 1999 and 2004, there were countless arguments between the designer and Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, which reportedly left everyone involved exhausted and resentful.
This Saturday in Milan she will show her first collection for the brand in seven years. This time around it will be menswear. Hopes are high. But critics are everywhere.
Her successor in 2004, Raf Simons, is considered by many to be one of the great talents in the industry, and his collections for the brand were well-received and reviewed.
Now it's Sanders' turn. "I am having to bring it back to our heritage," she told The New York Times this week. "I'm working less on decoration, more on form - pattern-making and materials, with a lot of dresses in the collection - in a good, modern way."
Modern is key because the industry has changed a great deal since 2004. Today, designers court celebrities, favoring red-carpet appearances over meticulous tailoring. A tailoring that Sander is known for.
Sander is also known for sleek simplicity. No bows, bells or whistles. Just sharp lines and perfectly executed seams. When she took on a consulting project for the affordable Japanese label Uniqlo in 2009, she told Interview magazine: "I am convinced that there can be luxury in simplicity."
Yet in the last seven years, luxury and simplicity have been redefined. Women can go to Rent the Runway or Bag, Borrow Or Steal to rent a $2,000 bag or dress. They can click through flash-sale sites like Zara and Ideeli. Or they can recreate the look with pieces from quality discounters like Topshop and Zara.
So is the 68-year-old crazy for trying again? Her family thinks so. "What are you thinking?" they demanded.
"You have to have love and passion," she said. "The beauty is that I can be in a company I know. I will do my best."