Fur is one of the most controversial topics today. Long gone are the days when a person could stroll out of the house in head- to- toe mink and have no one bat an eye in disdain. Similarly long gone are the times when a design house could consider fur as a base material for their seasonal collections and have little to no backlash from the public.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Fendi’s first Haute Fourrure collection opened amidst a raging PETA protest and a swirl of controversy.
Still, Fendi’s head designer, Karl Lagerfeld, is no stranger to criticism or controversy- he embraces it, using these emotions to fuel designs that push the limits of decadence and irreverence. Basically, adversity is a vital part his design work. I’m sure he got his fill of these emotions with this show.
Entitled “Silver Moon”, this collection was chock full of elegant, classic looks with a sleek space- aged twist. Silhouettes were reminiscent of the 1940s with lean, body-conscious garments being worn under piles of fantastic furs. Throughout, there was a sci-fi edge to the looks, with metallic finishes, sleek embellishments and species- blending fur ornamentation. Think what you will, but the show was très chic!
It opened elegantly with a group of sumptuous coats and capes that practically dripped with timeless elegance, but soon, racier elements came into play- Furred miniskirts, leather trousers and trailing mink boas inserted a shot of sexiness into the lineup. Girlier items like draped shawls in pink and white mink and voluminous princess coats provided an energizing break to all that was going on on the runway.
Indeed, there was a lot to be seen: space-aged confections of metallic leather, vinyl and crystals, flashy metallic jackets, leather stockings, graphically- striped furred minidresses, embellished tunics and cocoon-like coats; there were ladylike suits done entirely in sable, mink scarves and chinchilla stoles. There was a white gown trimmed in mink that was made for a true Ice Queen (Tilda Swinton perhaps?) and a series of gorgeous cross-species feather and fur creations that definitely ended the show on a high note.
These fabulous …almost dreams, all trimmed in rows of feathers, were my favourite looks of the entire collection- I’d love to give a round of applause to the artisans of the Fendi ateliers for their work- the garments are exquisite! Elsewhere in the lineup, other ornamental details proved equally impressive: crystal appliqués appeared over panels of vinyl and glossy leather, fluffy ‘rosettes’ of spotted bobcat and chinchilla popped up all over the coats, decorative silk embroideries and brocade weaves were lined with fur. There was intricate beading, plush patchwork embroidery, decorative knitted patterns and large 3-D flowers created out of mink. The craftsmanship was impressive!
There have always been fur garments and accessories included in Fendi’s seasonal collections, but with this show the house strove to use luxurious pelts and skins in ever more extravagant ways. The results were truly amazing… but despite being a beautifully intriguing display of garments, the show came over to me as quite surreal and a bit unsettling. Writing about this show presented a moral challenge to me since I don’t support the idea of the excessive killing of animals for fashion.
While my family and I do use fur, we have always purchased upcycled pieces as we don’t see the point in killing any more animals for a garment when there are so many beautiful existing pieces already circulating in the market. It’s hard for me to look past the excessive use of protected furs in this show no matter how beautiful or creative the final garments were. Show notes stated that these were true furs, meaning that Mr. Lagerfeld didn’t use materials from the Fendi fur archives to construct these pieces- these animals were freshly processed. To me, that’s very disturbing. Also, the utilization of fur as a garment is not an easy proposition. It is a skill and talent that, like so many work intensive fashion techniques, is in danger of disappearing and must be preserved. Much like the loss of endangered languages, the loss of this knowledge would leave the world a poorer place.
Fur is definitely not an easy topic.
But, I have to applaud the craftsmanship and vision of this show. The end result was a gorgeous one- astracan, mink, chinchilla, wolf, lynx, swakara and sable were all transformed into the sumptuous visions on display, visions that exhibited all of the mastery and talent of the Fendi ateliers. I’m in awe of the craftsmanship and ingenuity that went into creating these pieces- there were things that I’ve never seen done with fur- and as much as I hate to say this, I’m interested to see what they’ll think of next.
All in all, Fendi Haute Fourrure Fall 2015 was a good show. It was full of beautifully- constructed garments that toed the line between classic elegance and avant garde innovation. Distressed, amazed, shocked… whatever you may feel, what was presented was the craft of fashion at its finest- but then, what more can you really ask for from the planet’s foremost furrier?