It was fitting then, that the label returned to China for its latest show; a celebration of Lagerfeld’s unique vision and his legacy as long-running creative director of womenswear at Fendi, a partnership that began in 1965 and lasted until Lagerfeld passed away in February of this year.
Staged inside Shanghai’s spiralling Powerlong Art Museum, the four-level space had been stripped bare for the occasion, aside from the label’s iconic double F logo (designed by Lagerfeld in 1981), which was stamped on the floor.
"Dualism is the DNA of Fendi," says Silvia Venturini Fendi, the label's creative director of accessories, menswear and childrenswear, and in this case the traditional Fs, dubbed “Karligraphy”, were played against the futuristic feel of the museum's optic white walls.
Once the 600-strong audience was seated, the sudden glow of fluorescent lights and rumbling bass music signalled showtime, as models—both men and women—started their winding decent down the runway.
Bringing it back to that core concept of opposites, this was the very first time that Fendi had presented its men’s and women’s collections together, and Lagerfeld’s presence was felt in every exit. For women, the label’s autumn/winter 2019 collection was shown—the last designed by Lagerfeld for the maison. All his hits were there: diaphanous dresses, sharp tailoring nipped at the waist, and hosiery that reflected the double F Karligraphy on the floor.
When it came to menswear, Lagerfeld had collaborated with Venturini Fendi on the autumn/winter range, which made its initial debut in January of this year. From the "Karl Collage" that decorated Baguette bags, bomber jackets and silk shirts, to the rigorous suiting that riffed on Lagerfeld's own aesthetic, the resulting pieces represented a lifetime of friendship and creative symbiosis between the two designers.
Of the staggering 102 looks that featured in the show, 15 were seen for the first time in Shanghai. Designed by Venturini Fendi for the occasion, it was these that marked the most significant evolution in Fendi's history; the culmination of a lifetime of mentorship and a changing of the guard as Venturini Fendi heads up the future of the fashion house with 54 years of Lagerfeld's creative legacy by her side.