It’s common knowledge Karl Lagerfeld is not one to dwell on the past or to acknowledge milestones, birthdays or anniversaries, but when Fendi turns 90 with Lagerfeld as creative director for 51 years of those years – an exception is made. An exception so grand and so momentous, the evening might go down in history as one of Lagerfeld’s greatest legacies. To commemorate the world renowned label- synonymous with allure and splendour, guests were privately flown out of Paris straight to the eternal city. A more magnificent venue could not have been chosen for the haute fourrure presentation, for it was at the newly renovated Trevi Fountain (which just underwent a $2.4 million touch up, financed by the house of Fendi). It was an evening where models walked on water (well more specifically on transparent plexiglass hovering over the crystal blue pool) where the slivered moon peeked behind a marbled statue, and an evening where just for a moment the tectonic plates of the fashion industry and the European landscape stood still.
The show opened with model of the moment Kendall Jenner, wearing a blueish grey astrakhan coat with a full swing skirt, similar to that of the Dior new look aesthetic, setting the pace of what was to follow. More appropriately one could have started with, “Once upon a time, in a far away land there lived a Princess” as the 90 year old house, designed by an 80+ year old dedicated their collection to childhood – full of Brothers Grimm mystique and fairytales. To be exact, it was the Norwegian fairytale West of the Sun and East of the Moon illustrated by Kay Nielsen which was the inspiration behind the extravagant gowns and outerwear. At times direct motifs from the fairytale were replicated in many individual pieces, coming out as pure, yet bold.
The exhibition was a feast for the eyes, where craftsmanship was other worldly and was on another level. A singular piece needed 1,200 working hours to be completed thus cementing the notion that yes fashion can be fine art masterpieces. Motifs included magical forests scenes and heroic goldy-haired Princes winning over the heart of their damsel in distress. Simply breathtaking, awe-inspiring and a flashback to remembering our own childhood worlds filled with singing woodland creatures and fairy god mothers.
While each gown was even more miraculous that the other – although to do each piece justice you need at least 30 minutes to inspect and appreciate the handiwork of the Fendi petite mains- I must protest against the use and promotion of fur, which was included in almost every single look. Lynx, mink, Persian lamb…. were reworked into the collection and all because it was done beautifully does not mean it is right. As someone who loves my dog Archy very much (and all animals in that case as I believe animal welfare is a right) I find it heart breaking when you really question the sourcing methods. I for one believe that such cruelty has no place in modern society. I fail to understand that over the past 10 years demand for fur has increased by 44% worldwide even though we know exactly the “methods” behind that “must have” coat. What does that say about us? The technology is there for identical faux-fur materials, used by Stella McCartney for example, so why can we not evolve from brutality?
Each year 2.2 million dogs and cats are slaughtered in China each year to create ‘trendy’ Fendi replicas (such as the Karlito key chain) and then sold on Alibaba at a cheaper price. A purchase for fur has extreme repercussions and in essence you are supporting and legitimising the industry and current methods – both legal and illegal (I cannot go into details as this is too emotional for me to write).