tears were shed as fendi presented its final karl lagerfeld designed collection
The emotional autumn/winter 19 show celebrated a lifetime of dedication and creation from 1965 to today.
As the fashion industry continues to mourn the loss of one of its most talented and iconic figures, Fendi presented its final Karl Lagerfeld designed collection. “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,” Silvia Venturini Fendi, who first met Karl when she was five years old, explained in the show notes. When she came out to take her bow after the Heroes-soundtracked finale, she was in tears and the audience gave her, and of course Karl, a standing ovation.
As i-D contributor James Anderson reminded us, Fendi is “first and foremost about family” and, after 54 years with the luxury brand, Karl Lagerfeld was, and forever will be, family. After its humble beginnings, created by couple Adele and Edoardo Fendi, each of their five daughters pushed the family-business forward, most notably in the decision to hire a young German designer named Karl Lagerfeld to join them in 1965. In 2019, led by Kaiser Karl and accompanied by Silvia Venturini Fendi, it’s now one of the major Italian luxury fashion houses. Immensely affected by his passing, the house that Lagerfeld so chicly renovated over more than five decades celebrated his unparalleled creativity and timeless legacy. “In his perpetual search for beauty and innovation, Karl’s commitment to his craft never waned,” the emotional show notes continued. “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.” After 54-years at the house, it’s difficult to separate Karl Lagerfeld from Fendi but his era defining silhouettes, technical wizardry and love of logomania will live on. If anyone needed proof, this collection provided it.
From the small cards that were left on each seat, inscribed with his signature and 19.02.2019, the date of Karl’s passing, to the post-finale video that invited viewers inside the late, great designer’s studio as he sketched and talked us through one of the looks, the show provided a fitting tribute. Silvia Venturini Fendi was far from the only one with tears in her eyes. From Fran Summers, who opened the show in an oversized bow blouse and a pagoda shoulder double-breasted suit to Kaia Gerber, the last of Lagerfeld’s muses to collaborate with him on his eponymous brand, through Gigi Hadid closing the show in a dress covered in the Lagerfeld-created, now iconic double F logo, the supermodels of today fought back their emotions as each played their part in fashion history.
“I am profoundly saddened by his passing and deeply touched by his constant care and perseverance until the very end,” Silvia Venturini Fendi said. “When we called just a few days before the show, his only thoughts were on the richness and beauty of the collection. It’s a true testament to his character. He shall be so missed.” He will. He was one of fashion’s few true geniuses. This may have been the final act of romance in fashion’s longest love story but his work will live on. In this age of creative director musical chairs, will we ever see another talent lead a fashion house for as long as Karl Lagerfeld?
Photography: Mitchell Sams