The mood at Fendi’s fashion show in Milan was understandably sombre. Tributes to Karl Lagerfeld, who worked on the brand’s Autumn/Winter collection right down to the sketches of key silhouettes, were strewn across the runway. Models wore a low ponytail, echoing his trademark look. Small cards, adorned with a Fendi sketch by Lagerfeld and inscribed with 19.02.19, the date of his passing, were found on the seats of attendees like Olivia Palermo and Chiara Ferragni.
“I first met him when I was five years old,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, who currently heads up the house, in an interview last year. “In a lot of ways, Karl is family. Here is the kind of magical place where these values are very strong.”
Lagerfeld, who passed away on Tuesday, had been the creative director of Fendi since 1965. The luxury brand took to Twitter to announce that the Autumn/Winter 2019 show was going to be in tribute to the late designer.
“Immensely affected by his passing, Fendi wishes to celebrate Karl’s unparalleled creativity and timeless legacy during today’s Fall-Winter 19-20 fashion show,” the statement read.
Brown has been the predominant hue of Milan fashion week, but unexpected pops of colour appeared between Fendi’s neutral palette collection, which consists of laser-cut leather pieces, sheer dresses, fluid asymmetric pleated skirts and a new range of the brand’s iconic baguette bags that will hopefully, recapture their nostalgic magic. Crisp, buttoned-up shirt collar, the sole item most closely associated with The Kaiser himself, was an apt homage that felt neither mawkish nor overbearing.
The runway finale was resoundingly emotional, to say the least. Heroes by David Bowie, who Lagerfeld famously complimented as “a great artist and a timeless fashion icon”, reverberated through the room as models held back tears and made their last lap across the catwalk.
A video then flashed up on a screen: “54 years together”. It was Lagerfeld, being asked to draw a sketch of himself on his first day at Fendi in 1965. “Well, that’s prehistoric,” he said. “You know, in the Sixties, we didn’t hold back.”
It was a tribute truly fitting for a fashion king.