2009 March 3
Generally, the Fendi discussion starts with furs, but this season, the ready-to-wear was more intriguing. Karl Lagerfeld's response to a luxury-averse mood was all about the illusion of deconstruction. From a distance--second row, say, behind Anna Piaggi--the paneled dresses and coats appeared to be forged of utilitarian wool, only slightly more refined than the sort used by Joseph Beuys. Close-up, the heavily treated fabrics were works of art that incorporated tiny bits of fur at every possible turn, even daring to masquerade as the flyaway fringe of a seamless hem on a velvet skirt. Mink anchored the suede boots just as much as the wooden platform. The pouch bag Lagerfeld introduced last season was enough of a hit to revisit it, this time using pony and snakeskin as even luxer fabrications than mere calf.
Nobody in Milan dares compete with Donatella Versace's notion of sexy, and for Fall, she offered up a slew of wannabe demure dresses that will look pretty smashing on her devoted client. Floor-length, draped silk gowns with open backs in crimson, nude and aqua (worn gloriously by Mariacarla) recalled the Michelle Pfeiffer/Scarface era, while a slinky beaded halter gown in a shimmering ocean blue belongs on the red carpet as soon as humanly possible. The daywear--a series of black wool coats lightly dusted with lamé embroidery--took care of the modern element, but one of the most crowd-pleasing looks was a belted shaved mink in an unforgettable shade of teal seen on Jessica Stam. When it comes to this kind of drama, Donatella remains untouched.
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