It was one of the most anticipated moments of Milan Fashion Week: the Fendi Fall/Winter 2019 show, which presented Karl Lagerfeld's swansong collection for the brand before his death on Tuesday. The collection showed the late designer was still very much in touch with his ability to create beautiful, desirable clothing for the modern woman, even after having served over five decades as Artistic Director of the Italian brand alongside Silvia Venturini Fendi.
A refreshing turn away from the sporty pieces that Fendi presented last season, this collection was defined by tailoring. A crossover jacket worn by Fran Summers nodded to the dandy outfits that became synonymous with Karl. Roomy, high-waisted pants poked out from below structured jackets, and paired with tights and shoe socks. The '70s influence (which we also saw at Gucci) was evident.
For the colder season, Karl had designed long coats that were padded, or made of vinyl or fur. The joyful hues of orange, pink, mint and yellow filled the collection, a detail that tasted bittersweet in Karl's absence.
After the show, the room was plunged into complete darkness and the audience heard a voice it knows too well: "It's prehistoric but I remember, in the 1960s, we didn't hold back. I had a Cerruti hat, long hair. Dark glasses. A printed lavallière tie. And a bag, like an English hunting jacket with panels. It's a Norfolk jacket with French-style culottes and boots and a bag that I had found in Milan. That's it."
These were the words of Karl Lagerfeld when he was asked to remember his first day at Fendi, a scene from Loïc Prigent's 2013 documentary, Karl Lagerfeld Sketches His Life. The clip was played at the end of the Fendi Fall/Winter 2019 show, a touching tribute that reminded us that the Kaiser of fashion would never have wanted the heart of fashion to stop beating, in spite of his absence.