The news of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing away broke more than a week ago, and writing about his very final collection for Fendi seems like a struggle of using the right tense. It’s unbelievable he’s no longer here, with us. I always thought Karl will be present, forever. And just like that, it’s a season without him and his guaranteed, confident presence. Fendi’s autumn-winter 2019 was a tribute that wasn’t entirely a tribute, since Lagerfeld worked on majority of the collection – even though he was aware that his health is dangerously stumbling. After the models walked the runway, Silvia Venturini Fendi took a grieving bow. Karl’s last instruction given to Silvia was: “I want the bow” at the neck of the opening look. That was a nod to his own, unmistakable look. It’s difficult to write about the clothes from this collection as if this was just another Fendi collection. There was lightness in the pleated skirts. There was impressive craftsmanship involved, like the laser-cut “lattice” jackets and dresses. And, of course, there was the FF type face used on pretty much everything. It came from Karl’s calligraphy for the house from 1981. The models – most of them owe the designer their success by being his Fendi or Chanel muses – were visibly very emotional, but they walked their best, for Karl. Since 1965, he’s been at the helm of the brand – it’s probably the longest relationship between a brand and a designer in history – and now he’s gone. Venturini Fendi is taking the lead of the brand’s creative direction, but let’s leave the questions regarding the future of the brand for later. Rome, the city were Fendi was born, is in mourning: the brand’s flagship store on Via Condotti covered all of its window displays with Karl’s sketches of his designs for the house. Chanel faces the painful loss too, so does Paris.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.