Just as exhausted editors from all over the world were ready to pack up and fly home after a longer-than-usual couture week, along came Fendi with its grand finale: the Maison’s third haute fourrure show, set in the very charming Théâtre des Champs Elysees. Guests drank champagne and filled in the stalls and box seats artfully decorated in gilded art deco style. It truly felt like a celebration, its only dissonant note being the very exhaustive security checks at the theatre’s entrance. But of course, this being a fur coat show, the danger of activists letting loose among a crowd of well-heeled, mink-lined, chiffon-dressed clients would be obvious to anyone. And yet, when the golden curtain got up and the first model walked through a wood-like set invaded with fairy tale-like flowers, dressed like a couture version of Little Red Riding Hood in a crimson lace cape dress, one could legitimately wonder, where was the fur?
Well, it was in the flowers, a masterful assemblage of shaved mink petals. It was almost impossible to tell. But it was through those kinds of details – rather than big statement mink coats – that Karl Lagerfeld chose to explore the artisan work of fur. There were fox pom-poms embroidered on silk organza dresses, scale-like tiny pieces of shaved mink, astrakhan bodices and two-piece suits in mink, shaved in a way that almost looked like suede. Most of it in hallucinogenic, evocative colour degrades. The technical achievement was obvious, and earned Mr Lagerfeld a standing ovation that saw him return to the stage three times to bow at the audience. However, someone less technique-focused could argue that it’s not necessarily the best idea to eschew the big, conspicuous coats in favour of tiny details that, objectively, are unnecessary. At the risk of raining on Fendi’s undeniably pretty parade, do animals really need to die so that we can admire a technically-impressive piece of ornament? That was the question lurking in the minds of more than one journalist as we left the theatre and walked across an avenue Montaigne almost as filled with luxury stores as it is with SDFs. Welcome to the 21st century haute couture.