To describe Fendi as verging on reserved and sober when there was a white lynx coat right there in the middle might seem fashion-delusional, but even the Roman home of superdeluxe furs has indeed caught the season's mood of restraint. In this winter, when all leading designers are concerned with calming and reshaping the silhouette, Karl Lagerfeld seemed less interested in showcasing the furriers' storied technical fireworks than pulling back to work on swing coats; soft, billowy blouses; mid-calf dirndls; and a slightly countrified, muted palette of gray, navy, beige, and mustard. Even the footwear was a play on the sensible and utilitarian. Not teetering statement platforms but high-heeled booties detailed with ribbed rubber toe caps and top lacing akin to Wellingtons or the muckers that horsey girls wear in the stable yard.

It's all relative, of course. Backstage, and close up on the racks, there was more state-of-the-art fur expertise in evidence beyond the patchworked coats and vests (and that exceptional lynx) visible on the runway. The passage in what could pass as camel hair was actually shaved beige fur. The velvety nap of the eveningwear was constructed from ribbon strips of organza and fur, too. Still, from the point of view of the current drive toward chic practicality, it was the least showy coats—the simple, narrow, collarless suede cardigans with shearling on the inside—that could turn out to have the greatest fashion appeal in reality. Which is what it's all about now.