“I had no time to go to the flea market,” Karl Lagerfeld declared backstage at Fendi, again expressing his anti-retro stance. What interests him and Sylvia Venturini Fendi now: pure geometry, experimental volumes and a little fun. The notion of voluptuous geometry was flagged by the invitation and set, both featuring designs inspired by the Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp. But while they referenced her circular work, much of what was on the runway was angular — coats, dresses, even pants made from pieced-together panels. This collection was a delightful fusion of faux-utilitarian pragmatism and flamboyance. There was a bit of the Alpine worker to the pinafores and chaps-like leather additions attached at the hips to skirts. Bibs and aprons in paneled constructions were fastened by giant buttons. Continuing with the add-a-flower motif started two seasons back with orchid corsages, here, birds of paradise popped out of fabulous color-blocked fur and shearling bags.
The fabric splicing intrigued — the simplicity of the two-tone white coat that opened the show to graphically collaged coats and a witty felt gilet over corduroy pants wrapped in tubes of shearling from the knees down. The diversity continued through to silhouettes; looks came long and lean, long and swingy, short and crisp, and big, bigger, biggest, with the mega-statement coming on the big side. Lagerfeld and Fendi did outrageous takes on the puffer, including out-to-there short jackets over slim skirts and some strapless dresses that may have limited market resonance but looked adorable. The volume continued with the furs in proportions so pumped up, it looked as if the design duo may have been thinking of the hot (but very cold) U.S. market when creating the collection. There were ladylike coats, anoraks and big-as-a-bear overcoats, all delivered with a youthful insouciance. Case in point: an enormous two-tone topper over a coordinating mini T-shirt dress, both in shearling. If that won’t have a girl looking toward next winter before this one’s over, what will?