If it’s no longer true that all roads lead to Rome, the two-lane highway that ran down the Fendi catwalk today was definitely headed back there. Fendi’s new Roman headquarters is the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, built under Mussolini. Its “Square Colosseum” configuration was the inspiration for today’s set, and when Silvia Venturini Fendi talked about the collection being “on the road,” she meant the high velocity that is sweeping Fendi into the future. Or was it “high frequency,” a new technique that managed to inset strips of fabric without stitching (or something of that sort) to create the kind of seamless, streamlined effect you might get when you look out the window of a fast-moving vehicle?
Movement was everything in this collection. Skins were finely slashed vertically to create an optical quiver; tattered organdies floated like feathers. There was a subtle shimmer to the film of what looked like perforated plastic that coated a patchworked fur shift. (One way to waterproof your furry finery.)
But it was less the craftsmanship—never in doubt with Fendi—than the attitude on the catwalk that distinguished today’s show. Karl Lagerfeld has become paterfamilias to a whole tribe of bright—and very excitable—young things, like Cara Delevingne, walking exclusively for Fendi in Milan. “She’s a completely new sort of girl,” he said postshow. “Not like anyone who’s come before.” And in response, the collection that he and Silvia do together has taken on a character not like any Fendi that’s come before. In a word, young. Oh, so young. Jackets were cropped, pants were slouched, skirts were hiked. There was denim for the first time on a Fendi runway. And Lagerfeld has come up with a new leitmotif for his girls: the orchid. First introduced in Fall 2014 in corsage form as the romantic echo of another era, it is now printed, woven, embroidered, appliquéd, and even sculpted from suede for Spring 2015. Like time, Lagerfeld waits for no one.