For her Spring show, Silvia Venturini Fendi imagined sunshine coming through an open door. For today's Fendi presentation she was thinking about the wind blowing through an open window, stirring the goat fur that ran for what seemed like half a mile down the catwalk and up the back wall, making it ripple like grass—or like some eerily serpentine monster. (After the show, she reassured anxious guests that this extravagantly decadent effect would be repurposed as carpets for the Fendi Casa business.)
"We're making a connection between the Fendi man and the primitive, organic nature of Fendi's raw material," Silvia explained. It's often been the way with Fendi collections: the tug between the atavistic nature of animal fur and the linear, vaguely futuristic nature of the clothes. (The pixel print on a poplin shirt looked like twenty-second-century Liberty.) Tame and wild, urban and natural—Fendi can point to a long history of duality. And it didn't stop there. There was maybe more fur in its er furry state than usual, but the collection's strongest pieces lay in a different take on duality, that between real and fake. "We were the first to combine the two in the eighties," said Silvia. "It's like surprising people with a magic trick." That crocodile biker jacket, for instance? Stamped leather. And the panels of crocodile on a coat? Neoprene. Needle punching might have been invented for Fendi the way it morphed fine knit and shaggy shearling together to create a discombobulating hybrid.
Silvia insists she approaches menswear with the same attitude she applies to the design of Fendi's accessories business: The first rule is functionality. Hence, presumably, the abundance of somber-toned tailoring in today's presentation. But her wayward sense of humor has always been Fendi's secret weapon, and she let it loose with a couple of items that will stand among Fall 2014's most memorable. She translated the Little Monsters, the furry-bag bugs that now dangle from purses the world over, into shearling vests. Come Fall, they'll be glaring from manly chests near you.