Suzy Menkes

#SuzyMFW Fendi: Fur And Neoprene – With A Dash Of Lobster

Karl Lagerfeld bordered on the controversial, even with a new palette.
Karl Lagerfeld likes to go off-kilter in his designs – hence the “F” for Fendi angled in a circle on the invitation to the Milan show, and once again, giant size, as an emblem at the end of the catwalk. 
Typical to his vision for Spring/Summer 2019 was leaving Silvia Venturini Fendi to make detailed and boldly proportioned handbags – complete with compartments for phone, purse and other essentials – and then repeating the same utility pieces, such as patch pockets, on the front of the actual clothes.
A place for everything: Fendi Spring/Summer 2019.
Is Karl becoming contrary, capricious and changeable when it comes to designing clothes ? Or have his 50-plus years as Creative Director at Fendi taught him that constant change is the soul of chic?
Offstage at Fendi Spring/Summer 2019

At the Fendi Couture show in January, the designer focused on a mash-up of strips of fur, weaving them together in a way that reduced the animal effect so that they looked like fabric. This time, for Spring/Summer 2019 Ready-to-Wear, there were clear choices – and fur-lite was one of them. A neutral brown jacket with pushed-up sleeves was pure and unadulterated fur – even if it was partnered on stage with stretch biker shorts.
“I did it because other people are running away from fur and running towards polluting fake fur,” Karl said after the show. “And as long as people buy leather and eat meat, fur is an animate. It is still legal. It is like the people who destroy the butcher’s shop… No! The butchers are not illegal yet.”
Since Nicki Minaj was prancing around Karl’s private room, dressed head to toe in Fendi Fila monogrammed gear (which hits the shops next month) and blowing kisses at the designer, I did not like to ask my next question: Why had he resuscitated “plastic fantastic” – one of the world’s worst polluters? The transparent, neoprene-type material looked like some remake of Courrèges in its Sixties heyday – except when leather pockets gave it a utilitarian look.
Having been intrigued by a new colour palette, including a bright orange, I decided that colour tones might be a safer subject for discussion. Strong and bold, but elegant, the new shades gave a boost to the collection.
But Karl seemed determined to be controversial.
Karl Lagerfeld's new shade, "lobster orange", at Fendi Spring/Summer 2019
“Well it is not a cheap orange – forget about cheap orange,” he said. “I saw this on my plate. It’s lobster. Lobster orange.”
This new colour was not exactly a new fashion statement. But on the runway it looked fresh and juicy.
Silvia Venturini Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld take a bow at the finale of the Fendi Spring/Summer 2019 show. Lagerfeld has worked for Fendi for more than 50 years and in 2019 he and Silvia will have worked together for 25 years.