Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Fendi glide together over parallel lines
“It’s quite graphic,” said Karl Lagerfeld, taking out his pencil to draw a butterfly-wing lapel to explain the shoulder details in the Fendi show.
By the time the models in their tailored, or occasionally whimsical, clothes had walked past walls decorated with a grid of lines, Silvia Venturini Fendi was also emphasizing the sharp side of the Fall 2018 collection.
“Strong women, soft power; strong boots, bags, strong everything,” she said. The role of women today has been discussed in so many aspects of life, including clothing. But far from being an aggressive statement, this show captured a balance between hard and gentle in a Fendi collection that was mad about the logo, but graceful in its application.
An ‘F’ is of course the perfect shape to create rigid patterns. And even if the Fendi family was the first to make something of it, sports giant Fila’s iconic logo, designed by artist Hey Reilly, was appropriated and submerged with Fendi’s and will be used for both women’s and men’s collections.
Whatever the origin, the ‘F’ appeared everywhere, from earrings (the lettering inside a metallic circle), to the distinct grid pattern, to, of course, bags. This season, these had the traditional all-over pattern or a metallic ‘F’ corner frame as a hinge at the side.
“F” for fur came into Fendi’s fashion, too, for bags or for a coat that had Prince-of-Wales check sleeves, while the body had a wine-red furry surface.
The skill of this dual Karl/Silvia curatorship, is the balance of one idea against another. It started with the box shoulders – more straight lines – and the logos, but both were used graphically as soft power. That meant that the ‘F’ might be embroidered on a prim white collar that was another of Karl’s ideas, as was the elegance of an old-fashioned lady’s handkerchief – of the kind which, before the days of Tinder and Bumble, was dropped deliberately in front of a dashing male.
The designer went a step forward and first tied the handkerchief like a baby’s bib at the neck; or elongated the material into a white cotton dress. For a winter collection? In a globalized world, designers have long since given up the strict rules of clothes suitable to a certain season.
Why did this collection seem so well-balanced, calm and desirable? Because everything worked easily with the Prince-of-Wales check fabric, Fila introduced an element of sport, and because it all fitted so well together. Just as grids are supposed to do.