After five decades at the helm of Fendi womenswear, Karl Lagerfeld has finally lent his hand to the Italian heritage house’s men’s line for its Fall/Winter 2019 collection, which closed Milan Fashion Week Men’s on Monday afternoon.
Many of guest designer Lagerfeld's style cues were prevalent in this one-time exclusive partnership with men’s creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi. From the signature rigorous cuts of the tailored shoulders on suits and outerwear to the palette of sharp blacks and classic neutrals with a metallic sheen, the collection felt truer to Fendi’s roots than recent seasons.
The brand remains a fur house at its core, and a reinvention of its men’s furs, although not fitting with the values of Fendi’s more #woke young consumers, was the work of Lagerfeld, who has been credited with revolutionizing the way women have worn fur since his work with the house started in 1965. For men, the intarsia furs came in black and brown car coats and thick fleeces.
Lagerfeld’s touch was exactly what Fendi for men needed. No more sneakers, no more hoodies, and — thank god — no more inauthentic collaborations with sportswear brands and Instagram artists, as seen last season. That's not what Fendi’s loyal clientele expects of the brand, nor is it the right vehicle to organically speak to the brand’s increasingly important Gen Z and millennial demographic. After all, luxury fashion should remain desirable, not disposable.
What Lagerfeld and Venturini Fendi gave showgoers was a more mature version of the young Fendi man. Tailoring was more relaxed, the plethora of beige and brown products color-blocked with bright hues of tangerine orange, blood red, and fire yellow. Puffer jackets, button-up shirts, and anoraks got the graphic treatment using collages created from handwritten notes, images, and sketches that symbolically connect Lagerfeld’s Paris studio with Fendi’s Roman one.
“Duality,” Venturini Fendi called it. “Dualism is the DNA of Fendi, under every form,” she said, adding that the moment is ripe to bring sartorial formality back. With Lagerfeld’s help, she has succeeded in doing so, and with a Fendi twist, as seen in the collection’s knitwear and plongé nappa pieces split in two by zippers, functionally interchanging left with right, front with back.
The accessories, too, injected youthful contrast into a ripened collection. Logoed travel trunks, gold chains, oversized aviator shades, shiny bucket hats, brightly colored fanny packs, and brogues and Chelsea boots in classic yet unexpected colorways all added to what was a spectacular collection.
The collaboration aspect, much adored by new, younger luxury consumers, was also there. This time, Fendi worked in collaboration with Japanese luggage and bag brand Porter, which gave Fendi’s iconic Baguette and Peekaboo models an ultra-light, nylon makeover. The collaboration marks the first time Fendi has made the Baguette for men.
Backstage, magazine editors, stylists, and influencers gushed over the new bags — a stamp of approval that shows Fendi is taking its men’s business in the right direction.
In other style news, Gucci enlists cult filmmaker Harmony Korine to shoot its Pre-Fall lookbook.