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A Walk on the Wild Side

Fendi Makes Fashion History on the Great Wall

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Thandie Newton.
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Kate Bosworth and Karl Lagerfeld.
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"I seriously doubt that there will be anything of this magnitude or anything this magical for a very long time," said Kate Bosworth, following Fendi's history-making sunset fashion show on the Great Wall of China on Friday night. LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault (who arrived by police escort), Karl Lagerfeld, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and company chairman and CEO Michael Burke gathered an of-the-moment crowd of 500 for an extravaganza that had been months in the making. Among the suitably impressed: actresses Ziyi Zhang and Thandie Newton, Miss Universe Riyo Mori of Japan, gallerist Pearl Lam, artist Terence Koh, A Bathing Ape's Nigo, and a planeload of New York socials, including Fabiola Beracasa, Zani Gugelmann, Amanda Hearst, Tinsley Mortimer, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, and Bettina Zilkha.

Those not warmed by a Fendi fur clutched tightly to hand warmers encased in logo fabric while sitting on the edge of their heated seats and hoping that none of the models would tumble down the steep runway in their high heels. "Last night I wore the shoes the models are wearing on the runway," said Bosworth. "They're phenomenal, but they're not easy to walk in." The mannequins managed to stay upright, as did the guests, most of whom ignored the suggestion to bring flats and climbed up and down the wall in spiky stilettos with the much-needed assistance of the railing or an usher.

The show, which opened with a vibrant red dress and closed 88 looks later with Chinese top model Du Juan styled as an empress in a black cheongsam gown, included an entire mini-collection created specifically for the occasion, as well as select looks from the Spring 2008 line shown in Milan less than a month ago. "Beforehand, part of me was thinking, how can you justify using the Great Wall of China in this way?" admitted Newton, in a yellow Fendi gown. "Seeing the show up there tonight—that is how you can justify it. You could see all of Karl's inspiration in the way he designed the clothes—the beautiful spheres, the belt that was reminiscent of the actual construction of the wall. It was all there, so I felt like it was Fendi's gift back to China." Indeed. The entire production was said to have cost around $10 million, a huge sum for a fashion show, and a clear indication of Fendi's belief in its future in the country.

Following the runway presentation, chilly guests were served hot chocolate or brandy to thaw them out before they were bussed to the Village at SanLiTun, an unfinished mega-mall in Beijing, for an alfresco dinner. For entertainment, there was a laser graffiti artist and dancers—some of whom were suspended from ropes so it looked like they were performing on the face of a replica of Fendi's Roman flagship. Lagerfeld made an entrance in a sequined blazer—sans gloves. After dinner, some attendees retreated to the warmer bars for drinks while the model contingent, a few still with their hair extensions, hit the dance floor. How to sum up the extravaganza? Bosworth's beau, James Rousseau, had one word: "majestic."

Click to see a slideshow of the runway looks.
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