Browsing the racks before the show today, Silvia Venturini Fendi claimed that life as a Roman means living with layers of history, from distant yesterdays to pell-mell tomorrows. There those layers were on the Fendi catwalk—hair that looked like a lift from classical statuary, skirts that were futuristically spliced, a dozen contrary ideas in between. Tying them all together was the signature notion of the hybrid: uniting leather jacket and wool coat in one piece; combining shine and matte, kilt and skirt, cape and shirt; bringing together plant and animal in a fur coat that vibrantly captured the colors of a wild orchid. Fur looked like candy-hued synthetic, wool looked like nubbly multicolored fur. A bag that appeared to be cut from animal hide was actually rubber; another handbag—the most significant in the collection—was an iPad carrier, reflecting Silvia's addiction to the information-gathering possibilities of the Internet. "I'm always checking things at dinner," she said.

Technology's influence on Fendi also comes courtesy of noted digitalist Karl Lagerfeld, who was saying that there's no need to refer back to the past when the online world is awash with late-breaking info. Nevertheless, there was a curious and charming retro edge in the Fendi collection, evident in details—a puff sleeve, a fichu, a bustle—that could almost pass as folkloric were it not for the fact that they were delivered in such an incongruous way. That bustle, for instance, bunched from navy blue croc or antelope hide. Incongruity may, in fact, be even more of a Fendi signature than the hybrid. It guarantees that this label's collections will always defeat expectations, in the best possible way.