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At Fendi, Functionality Rules

The house's signature use of fur was still present, but there was the underlying sense of the brand adjusting to a shift in the fashion climate.
Fendi Spring/Summer 2019 | Source: Indigital.tv
By
  • Tim Blanks

MILAN, Italy — MILAN, Italy — Hair stylist Sam McKnight gave the models in the Fendi show on Thursday a Croydon Facelift. It's a South London trick. Pull the hair into a tight topknot and it allegedly lifts the face too. Edie Campbell seemed to think it worked.

Silvia Venturini Fendi loves that sort of thing, something a little off. "I don't like things when they're too perfect," she said after the show. "We're Romans, you know." Even though he isn't, you can imagine Karl Lagerfeld agreeing. It was apparently his fault that parakeets danced all over the new Fendi collection. In which case, thank you Karl, because they were a delight. Silvia said they've been running riot in Rome, driving the native sparrows out of the pine trees. "It's becoming quite tropical," she laughed. "But you have to embrace the change."

Change was the theme of the collection Lagerfeld and Fendi showed. “Accessories inform ready-to-wear and ready-to-wear informs accessories,” said Silvia, most obviously in the return of the Baguette, the first bag to be elevated to the status of a piece of clothing. “The idea is very much about real life, to treat garments as accessories,” she continued.

That translated into clothing that often had a distinctly functional edge: a shirt dress in tan leather, bike shorts, denim cargo pants, and, everywhere, pockets. Lots of pockets: patch, bellows, slung off utility belts, attached to bag straps. Functionality ruled. Did you ever imagine the day would come when PVC made more of a statement in a Fendi collection than fur?

Fur was still here in a couple of intarsia-ed coats, as artfully crafted as everything the Fendi ateliers produce, but there was the underlying sense of the brand adjusting to a shift in the fashion climate, especially with all the attention lavished on leather. The sleek decorum of the clothes felt like a refutation of the outmoded luxury that fur represents.

It wasn’t missed, especially in a show that had so much else going for it, like the fluttering organza dress with the fragrant echo of Zandra Rhodes, or the belted military jacket with the parakeets lined up like little soldiers, or Kiki Willems’ blazer in chocolate leather, again belted in orange over a brown, pleated skirt.

That last look had all the elegance of a heroine in a 1940s movie. In fact, the whole show had an organic, cinematic flavour, which made it an object lesson in how a skilful production can elevate a collection. The finale tracked to Marianne Faithfull's "Ballad of Lucy Jordan". Maestro Michel Gaubert compared it to the credit roll of a movie. Never thought of it that way before, but it was entirely apposite here.

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