Contemporary architecture representing cascading waterfalls adorned the walls of the permanent runway at Fendi this morning, emphasizing even more the company’s dedication to being modern, different, and trend setting rather than trend following. While the sharp-edged statuary might infer a more blocked, hard-lined approach, though, this season is definitely a softer one with perhaps even a little less dependency on leather and more on comfort. The fact that global sales continue to shrink not only for Fendi but all of Italy’s traditional leather houses probably plays heavily into this approach that attempts to lure back in those women who would rather not be bothered by fabrics as heavy as leather.
Not that leather is gone by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll find some form of leather in almost every piece that comes down the runway. One of the details Sylvia Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld use often here is the concept of a leather lace. Now, that doesn’t mean anything is actually being laced, mind you. The element is there purely as decoration, but it is used in effective patterns making it an apt substitute for a geometric print pattern on many pieces, especially skirts and pants.
We find plenty of softness throughout the collection, most notably in sleeve design and at the bottom of skirts and dresses. There is a lot of attention toward Edwardian sleeves, the kind that are a bit rounder at the shoulder, but not exactly poofy. Think “Game of Thrones” costuming and you have a pretty good concept of what’s going on. Then, in other instances, the sleeves are actually puffed, which is an interesting and unexpected look for a leather bomber jacket. Pants are gathered at the ankles, and the same approach is taken to some skirts, especially short ones, giving those garments a sense of fullness as well.
Those who are fans of high waistlines are going to enjoy almost everything in this collection; those who dislike high waisted pieces are not going to be so enthused. While the element is most obvious with slacks and shorts, it’s just as high with the waist on skirts and dresses, giving an illusion of longer legs, but dangerously shortening torsos. Cut out features some pieces helps a bit, but this could really be an issue for shorter women.
For accessories fans, this is a bit of ho-hum season. Shoes are okay, with an open toe and block heel, but aren’t likely any more special than anything else one already has in their closet. Handbags are a big deal, however, which is normal for any Lagerfeld line. There are no feathered companions attached to anything this season, though, so collectors may be a bit disappointed.
The most curious element, which again seems to be a bit of a “Game of Thrones” callout, are woven leather chest plates on several of the pieces. Notice, these are chest plates, not breast plates. They run down the center of the chest with belts at the neck and just below the sternum. They’re not protective against the random archer or anything, but make for an interesting decoration. Oh, and the black pleated leather skirt in the final ensemble will make one’s posterior look larger than it is. Don’t even bother asking.
Is all this enough to pull Fendi back toward profitability? Probably not, though it sure can’t hurt. Fendi’s economic problems are Europe and Asia’s economic problems and in an economic downtown leather tends to not fare well, no matter how it’s packaged. This may mean cutbacks coming to Fendi like we’ve already seen at Prada, which shows later today. Keep watching stores. This might be a good chance to pick up some bargains.