MILAN, Italy — A couple of weeks back, the last prediction of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity — the one about gravitational waves — was proved, a hundred years after he made it. “Another bloody German,” said Karl Lagerfeld after the Fendi show this morning. Was that a moment of not-quite national pride?
Ambiguity aside, Lagerfeld did pay Einstein a sort-of tribute by visualising gravitational waves throughout the Fendi collection, in everything from the undulations down Edie Campbell’s arms to the wavy patterns on a Dalmatian-spotted fur jacket — to the leather that rippled weirdly round the thigh-high boots. “Don’t call them ruffles!” Lagerfeld snapped, immediately detailing on his ever-present sketchpad how a wave differed from a ruffle.
It was, in fact, less the pure science of gravitational waves than waves of creativity that the Fendi collection was celebrating. And, in the way that fashion shows can make a quantum leap from designer inspiration to runway realisation, the Burning Man Festival somehow inserted itself into the story, hence Peter Philips’s subtle face-painting. Unlikely as that sounds, it almost fit. Fendi has never been afraid of a little iconoclasm. But there wasn’t really much of that on display here. Instead, Lagerfeld offered up a collection that was rich in texture (the fur, obviously), fabric (sumptuous coppery jacquards) and detail (the floral motifs that were lifted from 18th century Japanese botanical paintings).
A Fendi collection always recreates the present with one foot in the past and the other in the future. Lagerfeld promptly quoted Goethe, the third German of the day, as to why this was a bare necessity. Here, there were mumsy dresses that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Einstein’s wife next to abbreviated outfits that had a space age kick (those boots certainly helped). And those timelessly glamorous jacquards, of course. It is the essence of Fendi that they sat together strangely, harmony being something that Lagerfeld doesn’t seem particularly concerned about. “I’m always on the border of throwing everything out,” he conceded. But gravity wouldn’t let him.