"Inspired by the world of informatics." Karl Lagerfeld's reduction to essence of his latest Fendi collection sounded so drily off-world that it scarcely induced a warm rush of anticipation. But Karl is a past master of the undersell, always so ready to shrug off his achievements as the paid-up obligation of some journeyman designer. And isn't that enough to make a cat laugh? (Especially if the cat is the now-famous Choupette.) Especially in the light of collections like the one Lagerfeld showed for Fendi today.
Self-deprecation aside, Lagerfeld is mesmerized by the opportunities that advances in fabric technology have offered him. That took two directions today—the unstiffening of organza, one of his favorite fabrics, and the leavening of fur, to the point where it was almost as light as the organza with which it was combined. "A coat weighs grams," enthused Silvia Venturini Fendi backstage.
That lightness was the collection's leitmotif. Laser-cut organza was layered in spectrums of color, inspired, said Lagerfeld, by light passing through water. A waterfall cascaded down the backdrop, a reminder that Lagerfeld and Fendi worked on The Glory of Water exhibition in Paris in July. Somewhere underneath the layers of fabric, the fountains of Paris and the fountains of Rome were inspirations.
Equally, there was Lagerfeld's attachment to anything that is about to happen. Hyperlinking was his key to the collection's modular quality, to the way that a leather jacket was carved into articulated panels or digital circuitry created motifs for jackets and skirts. Still, the irrevocable truth is that Fendi is a fur house, and fur is just about the most primordial material known to humankind. Which is why Lagerfeld's innate iconoclasm infected today's presentation with plastic. A crocodile handbag, half real, half fake? The very notion had a subversive tang, especially from one of the most counterfeited fashion houses in the world. Fake a fake? Fendi is streets ahead.