The essence of Fendi was perfectly distilled into one look from the label's Pre-Fall collection. A lustrous leather jacket—stitched in a croc texture, when the easy way out would be to print the pattern—was tightly belted over a long, elegant skirt, from which peeked legs covered, like the satyr of Greek legend, in tiny tufts of fur. The extreme craftsmanship, the sleek sophistication, the pagan finishing touch—nobody bakes that recipe better than Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi. But those hairy legs aside (they were actually kneesocks), this wasn't really a Fendi collection that dressed to thrill. If Spring offered a superb take on lightness, what we got here was more earthbound, with the heft of masculine tweed and shearling cut into solid silhouettes, and a prevailing somber seriousness, even if it was interrupted here and there by odd patches of color applied in a process called thermo-pigmentation. It seemed appropriate that the bag of the season had a sturdy four-in-one functionality. With a little manipulation, it converted from clutch to handbag to shoulder bag to messenger.

But opposites have always attracted at Fendi. The future always arrives with the past. So it seemed logical that Spring's lightness should surrender to weight. And here there were masculine and feminine, hard and soft, the linear and the asymmetrical, plus a strong feeling of hard-edged precision softened and blurred by the shearling and fur collars and trims.

The technique was, of course, still stunning. One striking coat was composed of bands of leather, bouclé, and shearling shaved into a 3-D effect. Another coat had a dip-dyed ombré look that was actually composed of little morsels of carefully graded fur, an effect that took a grand total of 1,050 hours to achieve. Too bad the collection left you feeling the weight of that time, because the coat itself was featherlight.