Fendi and a touching triple bow by Karl Lagerfeld
Symbolism on the soundtrack – and symbolism in the clothes, in an erratic, but at times truly brilliant, collection from Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld to close out the major shows in the 5-day Paris haute couture season.
Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune playing majestically as the first models appeared on a horseshoe-shaped runway inside the Théâtre de Champs Elysées on Wednesday night. Which, confusingly, is actually on the Avenue Montaigne, Paris’ most expensive shopping thoroughfare.
The invitation read Fendi Roma Haute Fourrure, though five sketches in the program instead said Alta Moda and HC. Whatever the title, the collection was all about Lagerfeld driving the famed Roman atelier to new heights.
Staged before a remarkable set, a flaming sunset in a Mediterranean umbrella pine forest with an almost Biblical mood. Lagerfeld stunned with a divine caramel astrakhan coat trimmed with giant Yves Klein blue irises made of fox; or a bitter orange cocktail with astrakhan bodice and flared fox skirt. The collection touched great heights – notably a long white reassembled fur coat finished with red poppies; or a putty-hued, shaved mink coat with matching cape that looked finished with water colors; or a truly remarkable knitted fur column, topped with a lace Victoria blouse. Admittedly an uneven show, where a series of abstract expressionist coats did jar. That said, Karl, in effect, takes fur to another level, making him the great master of the material in our times. A Midsummer Night’s Dream of a show, albeit for a fall-winter collection.
Plus, one could only love the romantic accessories with court shoes topped by leather petals, and bags constructed like bunches of flowers. All keeping the remarkable Fendi fur juggernaut rolling.
Then came the most touching moment at the final, when Karl came out to take his bow. First he appeared briefly under the giant backdrop, nodding politely, attired in a polkadot jacket. Then, after he had abruptly departed, he returned a second time; and then a third as the entire audience rose in a crescendo of applause.
Coming after Karl receiving the Grand Medal of Paris from the city’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo after Tuesday’s Chanel show, the whole scene brought tears to people’s eyes. Like an actor, detesting the idea of leaving the stage; and after 60 years of applause still wafting in the love of his diehard fashion fans.
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