To enter the arena of Italian fashion is to take a ringside seat at a gladiatorial contest between luxury brands. That, at least, seemed to be the impression Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi were intent on creating as they sent out a posse of glam warrior girls, dressed for battle in skimpy body-skimming chiffons and leathers, and armed to the hilt with killer accessories.

Lagerfeld opened with dark-blue two-piece swimwear, lashed together with strips that crisscrossed the body and paired with high—very high—Roman sandals in metallic leather. Everything he showed from then on emphasized the honed body, whether in light, tightly seamed tailoring, sheer, lacy knits or short, asymmetrical goddess dresses finished with matte silver sequins. The combat theme extended through cutout-metal armlets, chokers and even filigree-encrusted sunglasses.

Spring’s major assault, though, came in the shape of the Biga, a soft, exotic shoulder bag named after a Roman chariot. The gold-and-silver-mesh version, studded with Swarovski crystal, together with a rich-looking leather style embossed to look like feathers, seem primed to emerge victors in the next round of the epic 21st-century handbag wars.