Finding a perfect balance between the creative and the commercial, Karl Lagerfeld reworked some of the Fendi house’s most recognizable elements — geometrics, colorblocking, fur, among them — for a pretty pre-fall collection that looked fresh and modern.
In the wake of incredible in-store success, the brand’s instantly popular furry Bag Bugs, which were launched as bag charms last year, appeared here as decorative elements on a range of products. They added an ironic, playful twist to an intarsia wool turtleneck sweater — which was matched with a silk-crepe miniskirt with sheer tulle linear inserts — and to a cropped nappa leather biker jacket with a shearling collar. The latter was worn with a wool jacquard skirt with heat-sealed leather details in one of the collection’s signature motifs — symmetric stripes recalling piano keys. Inspired by the patterns of vintage scarves, which Lagerfeld found during his research, they also decorated one side of a fuchsia cashmere sweater with a matching column skirt, as well as a rich oversize shearling coat with a Mongolian fur collar.
Geometry also returned in Fendi’s upscale fur offerings, which included an exquisite cashmere zippered coat embroidered with mink fur blocks and mirrored embellishments.
From one tiny germ of an idea—a sketch of a vintage scarf—Karl Lagerfeld created a symphony of stripes for Fendi’s Pre-Fall collection. Testament to his protean imagination, his stripes tapped a multitude of associations. A shift banded in leather, suede, and wool evoked the old college stripe. In black and white, the bands could have been piano keys or something dreamed up by a Russian Constructivist. There was a coat arduously put together from strips of intensely toned, precisely trimmed mink that looked like a mind-blower a witch doctor might don for his ultimate communion with the great beyond. And then, an elongated pleated dress composed of strips of silk and organza, as supremely elegant as anything from Bertolucci's The Conformist, but zipped and collared like a baseball jacket and delivered in the lurid coloration of a test pattern from a 1980s TV set.
That particular piece was a perfect articulation of the fundamental tension that loans Fendi its irresistible fearlessness. Decades of heritage infused by moments of iconoclasm mean that Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi can draw on the atelier's extraordinary craftsmanship to create pieces that marry the substantial and the throwaway. Nothing made that more obvious here than a huge puffball of fox, exhaustively graded light to dark in its natural shades but so weightless it could be rolled into a ball and packed away like a T-shirt.
The same train of thought was surely behind an outfit composed of the sweetest cocktail dress in pink organza (decorated with bug-eyed Little Monsters, Fendi's favorite leitmotif, here in mink with a fluffy fox mustache) topped by a biker vest in pink mink lined in gold leather, like the foil on a Ferrero Rocher. Really? Resistance is surely futile in the face of such frippery. Same with a flapper dress in silk tattered to look like fur.
There is a giddiness to Fendi that suspends judgment on issues as mundane as good taste. Reinforced this season as a house code alongside the Bag Bugs and the orchids was the crocodile tail, composed of baguettes as a necklace or as a closure on a new backpack. It was Karl's reminder that one of the F's in Fendi's FF logo stands for Fun.