Once Upon a Fendi Fairytale

Posted on 04 August 2016

Walking on water was just one of the minor miracles in Fendi’s 90th anniversary show.

ROME, Italy — Fendi celebrated its 90th anniversary in Rome last night with ahaute fourrure show called Legends and Fairy Tales. The models walked on the water of the Trevi Fountain. The spectacle was so exquisitely realised that even the famously unreflective Karl Lagerfeld was moved. “In my wildest imagination, I never thought something like this could exist,” he mused in a pre-show conversation. “To do this on a crystal bridge over the most famous fountain in the world? If that’s not a fairy tale, I don’t know what a fairy tale is.” 

It all started with an early 20th century edition of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a Norwegian fairy tale with pictures by the famous children’s book illustrator Kay Nielsen, which Lagerfeld found at his friend Sandy Brant’s place. His curiosity was piqued. “This was something from the North, we were making a fur collection, and the pictures were something in between art nouveau and art deco,” he explained. (It was also, coincidentally, an era when the designer liked the way fashion used fur, as opposed to later decades when everything got much too heavy for him.) “So we asked the estate for permission to use them.” And that is how Nielsen’s illustrations came to be reproduced in a minutely-intarsia-ed mink coat, or embroidered on a flowing empire-line gown then re-appliqued with fur and organza. (Contemporary artists Katy Bailey and Charlotte Gastaut also contributed ideas.)

The collection spun its own tale: a princess journeying from day to night, the colour palette darkening as she travelled further into the woods. Consistent throughout was the subtle application of Fendi’s extraordinary craftsmanship, the way, for instance, an insect’s wings illuminated by sunlight were duplicated in a tiny clutch of feathers, or the flowers around the hem of an organza dress had petals of mink.

Lagerfeld brought in Lemarié, the Chanel-owned Parisian atelier which specialises in feather work, to work on some of the fur detailing. That underscored the incredible lightness. (“Lightness is not unbearable,” he quipped, even though you could imagine some of the people he employed to pursue it might occasionally disagree.) Even the grandest gestures were similarly weightless. One dress in Persian lamb was perforated 5000 times, creating an unlikely lace.  READ FULL ARTICLE

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