Milan Fashion Week kicked off on Wednesday, with a gentle breeze and four elephant handbags casting long shadows on the Fendi show.
They loomed – white and sculptural, like altars to the great consumer civilization – above Kate Moss in the front row, Linda Evangelista and Demi Moore all came to pay her respects at the Temple of St. Baghdad.
why not? After all, Baguette was a guest star on the most recent season of This Is It . Carrie (aka Sarah Jessica Parker)’s love affair with purses was her longest love. It’s no secret that bags tend to inspire more brand desire than skirts, dresses or coats.
Plus, Fendi couturier Kim Jones passes towering imperial ruins every day on her way to work in Rome. He just puts it bluntly, or a profit center is a profit center. Whatever the label, though, here’s the irony: Acknowledging it seems to have given him the freedom to make great clothes.
At his show, clothes put bags in the shade for the first time.
For the past three years, since becoming artistic director and beginning to experiment with womenswear, Mr. Jones has been working to define Fendi beyond bags (curated by Silvia Venturini Fendi) and Products beyond fur (another front pillar of the brand). products (fur has fallen out of fashion as it has fallen out of favor politically). To be fair, he doesn’t have much to go on beyond a pair of F shoes and a penchant for brown. Even his long-time predecessor Karl Lagerfeld viewed Fendi as a laboratory for experimentation rather than a bedrock of personality. But this season, Mr. Jones finally figured it out.
The clothes he is making are literally a calming spell for a busy mind.
Knitted dresses, leather skirts and jackets connected the blocky road with a capital F to Mondrian and the De Stijl movement via color blocks of bright orange, cream, chocolate and slate blue as well as butter yellow. Some were wrapped in a nominal belt with one end dangling in the wind, or mixed with a simple menswear cut. Tie the arms of the cardigan at the ribcage or waist to create a layered look without looking bulky. Some banana pants or shorts have the waistband side folded down to improve breathability.
They looked sophisticated without being stuffy; comfortable and streamlined, echoing the overall mix of clothing styles that began during the New York fashion shows. A printed sleeveless silk dress was punctuated with little F’s forming a python pattern, a nod to the brand’s past expertise in leather and (perhaps) a future without it. Or at any rate, their numbers are smaller.
Just like you stuff your life into a handbag and feel pulled together, you can stuff yourself into these clothes and feel empowered to make some margin calls.
In our age of short attention spans, fashion observers and employers alike tend to abandon designers after a season is over. or even terminate the contract. This series is a great argument for why it’s worth giving creative directors time to parse a brand themselves.
Most models carried a shrunken handbag cradled in their arms as if it were a pet Chihuahua or toy poodle, or had a smaller envelope bag hanging from a long chain – the accessories in just the right place. As Brunello Cucinelli said before showing off the athglam (think tennis attire paired with his signature sequined knits and silver paint pants), “We need to restore balance”—in fashion, in all things.
Mr. Jones did.