Karl Lagerfeld changes the shape of fur and focuses on fine craftsmanship.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

The pattern in honey and cream on the runway floor was definitely and defiantly the Fendi logo – not used with such bravado for many seasons. But it could have been something else: the geometric patterns that turned elegant fur coats into checkerboards of craftsmanship.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

“Look at the shape,” said Karl Lagerfeld backstage, showing me the slim waist of fur coats that were once in the distant past known only as hefty cold weather wear.

Some of the costs even had an “X” on each side of the waist line, as if drawing attention to the area. Karl put that into more technical language.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

“Instead of having just a tab, it is a deep seam fixed by a cross in different shapes,” he explained. “There is a double shoulder with a graphic effect – and the sleeves start later on.”

The result was not just about the technical work on the designs, but what the Fendi studio had done to realise Karl’s inspiration of patterns inspired by Viennese woodblock and marquetry, worked not on a flat surface like a floor or a table, but around a human body.

It is always difficult to gage while sitting in the audience, how much is technique and what part is played by design. But in this sophisticated show, exactly the right level of craftsmanship seemed to be applied, to make the clothes seem stylish, rather than bowed down by handwork.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

There was also an attempt to lighten up what could have been ladylike clothes, by teaming them with scarlet boots, that seemed to move higher and higher up the thigh.

“They are the colour of wax that used to seal a letter,” Karl said.

Then there were, of course, the bags that are Silvia Fendi’s domain. They were often squishy, in contrast with the grid lines, but also came up angular and highly monogrammed. Their sheer volume, intelligently shown on either side of the runway, was impressive.

But however you judged the look, when a model stepped out in a cropped jacket with circular patterns worn with soft trousers, these were grown-up clothes. Gone were the fun furs that made such an impact in the past and brought a really young audience to fur.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

In a double set of tramlines we so rarely see with the different Karl Lagerfeld fashion commitments, this Fendi show seemed in exact parallel with Chanel couture – lovely clothes for a certain class of woman. The focus is intelligent considering the buyers who aim for elegance.

But the result seemed like a re-branding of Fendi as a luxury house – which it is – but without the vibration of anything more.

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Fendi Autumn/Winter 2017
CREDIT: INDIGITAL

It is exactly Karl’s connection with couture that makes him able to throw in half a dozen evening dresses, light as a breeze in mesh or gathered tulle, a hint of a harlequin pattern and just right for Fendi’s client as imagined by Karl: “A cinematic character pacing the streets of Rome, framing her free-spirit”.

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