When Karl Lagerfeld began designing for Fendithat would be 1965there were no other furriers (at least in Italy) who had the ambition to put fur at the forefront of fashion innovation. So much has gone around since then that it's almost unimaginablefur has been "in" and "out," markets have surged and crashed, and now we find ourselves in the unprecedented position where there's another economic wobble at exactly the same time that practically every fashion label is showing fur coats, gilets, chubbies, bags, you name it. The upshot is that it takes some oomph to keep Fendi in pole position, not just regarding ready-to-wear, but in streaking ahead with the extra extras in the furs, pushing the luxury to points that are out of reach of the common manufacturer.
This season, Lagerfeld kept the baseline of the clothing short, with a lot of action going on around the upper body: caped coats, poufed sleeves, high Elizabethan-influenced collars, and something of an autumn-woodland theme popping up, by the by. That's kind of enough to keep the clothes warm, but the real heat now has to be generated by the fur. So how about gilding it in 24-karat gold? Just about everyone is using fox these days, but when it appeared on the Fendi runway it turned headsthe tips of its hairs seemed to be illuminated with a golden glow. How's it done? Legendarily, Fendi has the handcraft no one else can muster, and now they've co-opted twenty-first-century science, using a secret process in which the fur is put into a molecular chamber that deposits gold particles onto the pelt while allowing it to remain silky. As it turned out, all the mink, fox, and astrakhan in the show that had a gold hue was treated with this technology, which, depending on the length of time spent in the chamber, gives the effect of an aura of light through to a thorough drenching. Fendi has tied up an exclusive on thisjust as the price of gold is skyrocketing. All to the good of company prospects, of course: When a superrich lady comes to place her fashion investments, she'll be wanting something of proven exceptional value. Just watch the oligarchs flock.