Fendi paid poignant tribute to its longtime creative director Karl Lagerfeld at the show Thursday in Milan, just two days after his death at age 85 from pancreatic cancer. It was the legendary designer’s last collection for the Italian house and his inestimable contribution was celebrated from start to finish.
Guests at the showroom at Via A. Solari, where the presentation is always held, were greeted with a step-and-repeat wall featuring a large black F and red heart with Lagerfeld’s signature. Many stopped to photograph it. A small card with the same graphic and the date he passed printed on the back (19.02.2019) was found on each seat, on top of a folder of show notes and copies of five of his signed sketches of the collection.
After the models, who included Kaia Gerber and Gigi and Bella Hadid, made their way down the runway, a video of the designer sketching his first day at Fendi was screened. It was a fitting end to his five-decade collaboration with the Roman fur specialist.
The prolific fashion icon, who also designed the Chanel haute couture and ready-to-wear lines in addition to his signature collection, was named to the Fendi team in 1965. He turned the Roman fur specialist into a global status brand by lightening the weight of the coats and using different colored pelts to create patterns. Outside the show, a large group of anti-fur protesters held up signs and chanted animal rights slogans.
While the collection showcased signature Fendi fur coats and double-F monogram clothing, some of the most memorable pieces were high collar shirts — an undeniable nod to Lagerfeld, as stated in the show notes. He was famous the world over for wearing a powdered ponytail, dark glasses and a starched high-collar white button-down.
“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,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director of men’s wear, accessories and kidswear, in the show notes. Fendi will fill his role until a successor is named.
By Johannah Masters, Alev Aktar