Fendi presented its Fall 2019 runway show in Milan on Thursday, 48-hours after the death of its long-standing creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away at the age of 85 in Paris on Tuesday. It was the final collection that Lagerfeld, who began his collaboration with Silvia Fendi in 1965, created for the Italian fashion label. “In his perpetual search for beauty and innovation, Karl’s commitment to his craft never waned,” read the show notes. “This collection embodies that devotion, from the season’s defining sketches to his ultimate Fendi gesture: The romantic trace of a silk foulard. Reflected in a multitude of ideas, each expression is innately and forever his own.”
Outside of the show, a mob of animal right’s activists gathered in front of the Fendi Showroom to protest the label’s use of fur in its collections. Meanwhile, inside, a crop of supermodels and Lagerfeld muses, which included Adut Akech, Adwoa Aboah, Kaia Gerber, and Bella Hadid emerged onto the set, which featured a handwritten sign above the runway that read “Love Karl”, wearing modest, streamlined looks. We also spotted hijab-wearing model Ugbad Abdi on the runway.
There was pleated skirts and trousers, double-breasted tuxedo jackets, monogram tulle bodysuits, and laser-cut leather outerwear. Lagerfeld’s “Karligraphy” FF logo punctuated cabochon buttons, tights, and intarsia fur, while the iconic Baguette bag received a makeover. After Gigi Hadid closed the show in a yellow logo-printed dress layered over a nude, monogram turtleneck, an emotional Silvia Venturini Fendi came out to take the final bow at the end of the show, unable to hold back tears.
Following the emotional runway finale (Gigi was crying), a tribute video in honor of the late designer was projected for the tearful audience members and catwalkers. The montage depicted Lagerfeld sketching the outfit he wore on his first day working at Fendi over 50-years-ago. In the clip, the camera focuses in on the illustration, as the German-born designer describes his ensemble in the image which featured a Norfolk jacket, French style culottes, boots, and a bag.
Each guest was greeted with a card on their seat featuring the date the designer passed away alongside his signature, and copies of his last sketches for the fashion house.
Venturini Fendi also penned a heartwarming message on the cards, writing: “The bond between Karl Lagerfeld and Fendi is fashion’s longest love story, one that will continue to touch our lives for years to come. I am profoundly saddened by his passing and deeply touched by his constant care and perseverance until the very end. When he called just a few days before the shoot, his only thoughts were the richness and beauty of the collection. It’s a true statement to his character. He shall be so missed.”
A worthy tribute for a designer who is gone, but will surely never be forgotten.