Fendi Couture’s poetic Orphic vision
Just when you thought you were going to drown in a sea of fawning bloggers, hyper indulgent technique, overblown spectacle and conservative homages to fashion houses’ DNA, along came Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Fendi to make us finally dream.
Precisely by breaking new boundaries, and reinventing the wheel at Fendi, with the goal of creating a new fashion paradigm at the most famous fur brand in the world. And injecting a little much-needed poetry into couture.
“You may not believe this, but 80% of these clothes were not even made of fur,” trumpeted Karl Lagerfeld in the backstage of the Palais Brongniart, France’s former stock exchange.
Inspired by the Orphic Cubism art movement with its obsession with geometric patterns and bright abstraction, the collection had a wonderful artistic bent – seen in the remarkable circular motifs that covered many stunning coats.
“Actually that was made of shearling,” Silvia Fendi politely corrected one enquiring editor at the backstage look-board, pointing to a to-die-for honey-colored coat with the famed multiple circles pioneered by Czech painter František Kupka, which had to be made of mink, but no, it was actually made of shearling.
A remarkable multicolored coat that recalled Robert Delaunay’s vertical abstract architecture paintings seemed certain to have been made of shearling but was in fact organza; a truly opulent black astrakhan broad-shoulder coat that reeked class turned out to be velvet. While a stupendous abstract bolero with fringed wrap skirt that seemed to have stepped off a Sonia Delaunay painting was uncannily like leather but instead was in organza.
Quite rightly, the collection was named Fendi Couture, as opposed to its previous more restrictive title, Fendi Fourrure.
All worn by a cast shod in multimedia Memphis meets Cubism shoes, with heels composed of Perspex, maple and horn.
Above and beyond the technique was the sheer refinement of the vision, its rarefied colors and its punchy gentility. A relief after a season which has swung between the technically audacious and the tired and formulaic.
The actual term, Orphism was invented by the great French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who, however, would not have been impressed by the literary qualities of the show program, which invented the concept “waterfalls of Mongolian lamb.” Errr…
That said, the show was also a brilliant Paris debut for Fendi’s latest CEO Serge Brunschwig, who positively radiated contentment. Even if his two predecessors, Michael Burke and Pietro Beccari, were also both backstage to enjoy a little reflected glory.
“Absolutely sublime,” opined LVMH Chairman and Fendi’s ultimate owner Bernard Arnault, embracing Lagerfeld.
Asked about a recent opinion piece in the New York Times that LVMH, and rivals Kering and Richemont were all divesting themselves of smaller brands in their portfolios, in order to prepare for major new acquisitions, Arnault scoffed: “Boh! We haven’t sold very much. Listen, great brands are like great paintings, the smart thing is to hold on them!”
“Just like your designers?" suggested one editor.
“Exactly, just like great designers,” Arnault chuckled.
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