“The name of the show is GP — giant pockets,” said Karl Lagerfeld pre-show, in his backstage meeting room at Fendi. “GP. Sounds good, no?” Lagerfeld then bemoaned the tight window between getting everyone back to work after the August holidays and staging a show on Sept. 20. “Too early!” he protested. “I went to Rome last week — ‘Where are the materials?’” Separately, Silvia Venturini Fendi described the collection as “very real clothes for a busy woman, very functional, practical.” High-function built with limited materials — not exactly the threshold to rapt anticipation.
As it turned out, Fendi’s savvy brain trust spoke too modestly. The show was, by Fendi standards, low-key, the lineup, true to billing, a collection for real life. As such, it featured those familiar real-world tropes with which high fashion has become obsessed — utility and sport. Yet this was no mere tony streetwear fest, as Lagerfeld’s approach was less embrace than acknowledgement — yes, life is getting casual — an acceptance he channeled into a nuanced collection, which — his pre-show grousing aside — showed not a hint of hurry-up. Rather, he worked a great deal of design into a lineup that delivered considerable chic with an approachable attitude.
At the core, a polished tailoring-sportswear fusion, the propriety of the former taken down a notch or two — and its volume often pumped up — with all those carry-all pockets, Lagerfeld made the point with the first look out: a clear plastic raincoat trimmed in brown leather, including two huge pockets, atop a pristine white underpinning flaunting unfussy ruffles. Giant pockets would variously take over the bodice of a high-neck blouse, puff up the hips of a zip-front leather dress, and show up as well in the expected places on jackets, coats and cargo pants. Yet, this was no one-note show. Rather, Lagerfeld employed his pocketed persuasion as a unifying ruse for some quite diverse clothes. Thus, classic jackets and lady skirts coexisted with more demonstrative fare — shoulder flanges; short, architectural capelets — as well as belted shirt jackets with scrunched sleeves, baseball jacket, flying-buttress corsetry and several scuba-based looks. Yet not all was sportif. Lagerfeld is a man of many thoughts, so a sort-of boho dress here and an exquisitely embroidered evening stunner there further broadened the collection’s range.
Amidst that bounty of options, one couldn’t miss the diminished use of fur. Yes, it’s spring, but once upon a time, Fendi’s spring runway was filled with lightweight wonders. Not here. Sure, there were a few, and they were demonstrative rather than subtle — the fur “mesh” anorak; two spectacular coats. But, no doubt in deference to the cultural moment, Fendi continues to up its non-fur profile — even changing the name of its haute offerings from “Fourrure” to full-on “Couture” — and this runway provided an obvious case in point.
Conversely, those masterful Fendi bags were on audacious display, spectacular in their utilitarian guise: next-generation, enlarged Baguettes and new Peekaboos, some with multiple, external pockets for phone and change. But not all was big, as Venturini Fendi also worked those miniature pouches as belt bags. Sometimes, the small touches speak volumes.