Karl Lagerfeld's All-Mango Diet Is the Secret to Eternal Life
And other things we learned at Fendi's London store opening
At the dinner he hosted with Silvia Venturini Fendi and Pietro Beccari last night at Sotheby's on New Bond Street, there was a curious, emphatic little something in the way Karl Lagerfeld said he liked Londoners, which suggested he wasn't that crazy about London. He certainly doesn't cross the Channel that often. But if the city obliged the opening of Fendi's new London flagship by displaying the chilly, drizzly side of her personality, the Londoners laid it on thick for Lagerfeld with all the funky, flirty, funny weaponry in their arsenal of charm. At dinner, he even downed the shades that usually render his reactions impenetrable, all the better to appreciate the pictures Cara was showing him on her phone. He showed her his, too. Given that Poppy and Suki and Lily and Charlotte were the width of a dinner plate away, Lagerfeld's table was quite the sparkly social mediacracy. "You'd never get people like this in Paris," he said while he waited for his main course to arrive. (He had what looked like slices of mango. We had sea bass.)
The evening was not simply to celebrate a store opening. Fendi had also commissioned ten "Iconic Women" to customize a Peekaboo bag each for a blind auction to raise funds for Kids Company, the London charity founded by force-of-nature Camila Batmanghelidjh to support abused, vulnerable children. The appalling statistics she offered in her speech highlighted the depth of the problem in a city like London, where ludicrous extremes of wealth and poverty cast a critical spotlight on each other. It's quite within Venturini Fendi's questing character to connect with a social initiative such as Kids Company, in the same way that her female "icons" ran the gamut from Gwyneth and Cara (of course) to Adele, Zaha Hadid, and Kate Adie, once the BBC's most famous war reporter. (Her Peekaboo was lined with a hyper-colored camouflage.)
Sotheby's auction spaces had been converted for the night into an exhibition of decades of Fendi's experiments in fur, mounted and lit like paintings on a gallery wall. If Venturini Fendi's own personal favorite—the tantalizingly titled Intestino from the late seventies—was missing, there were plenty more examples of the extraordinary, idiosyncratic hybrid of the sophisticated and the primitive that her family has mastered under Lagerfeld's tutelage. "Forty-nine years, forty-nine years," he mused, sounding like he scarcely believed it himself. But he's not stopping anytime soon. Ten minutes after the mango was gone, so was he, out into the night to continue wrapping up the finer points of his trip to Dubai next week, where he will show Chanel's Cruise collection.