mfw fall 2019

Inside Karl Lagerfeld’s Final Show at Fendi

Plus, Prada and Moschino.

Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images
Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images
Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Models could be heard sniffling down the Fendi runway on Thursday afternoon during Milan Fashion Week, which was followed by a stream of tears backstage. They wore Karl Lagerfeld’s final collection for the Italian house, where he’d worked since 1965 — long before his time at Chanel.

The fall 2019 shows kicked off on Tuesday in Milan, the same day Lagerfeld passed away in Paris at the (alleged) age of 85. Silvia Venturini Fendi, whose grandparents founded the namesake company in 1925 — and who’s known Lagerfeld since she was 4 years old — was in touch with the designer up until the very end.

“When we called just a few days before the show, his only thoughts were on the richness and beauty of the collection,” Fendi wrote in a statement. “It’s a true testament to his character. He shall be so missed.”

Lagerfeld was known as a tireless workhorse, and Fendi claims he meticulously supervised every single look in the collection until just weeks before his death. If you know anything about Karl, you’ll believe it — and the collection was full of his signature touches, including starched high-collared shirts, sharp-yet-feminine suiting, and low ponytails. Lagerfeld also invented the “Karligraphy” Fendi logo, which was written in his own handwriting and sprinkled throughout the collection.

The detail that really pulled at my heartstrings, though, was the slightly off-kilter bows, which hung from the backs of a number of looks. They were sweet and elegant, but also impulsive in the sort of rock-’n’-roll way that Lagerfeld was so skilled at cultivating. Models appeared as though they’d just run out of the door, adding a little something special just because. They made Lagerfeld’s touch tangible, and that was enough to make anyone sniffle.

Death was also top-of-mind at Prada, although not in relation to anyone in particular. Flowers were the ones wilting, rather, and saggy bouquets of fabric drooped right off both bags and apparel.

In continuation of her most recent men’s collection, which was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mrs. Prada showed her version of the monster’s bride on Thursday night. In addition to portraits of the freaky duo, there were other, more obvious motifs like black lace, Wednesday Addams pigtails, and thunderbolts as an expression of coup de foudre, or love at first sight. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” also played over the speakers.

Prada loves bringing together opposites — in this case, love and fear. “There is a dark romance in danger,” read the show notes. “A horror film is romantic, danger is attractive.” In this vein, delicate lace capes and glittery shoes were juxtaposed with clunky combat boots, bomber jackets, and gray lieutenants uniforms.

Prada Fall 2019. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Thank god for Jeremy Scott, who brought some much-needed levity to an otherwise somber day (actually, few days) at his Moschino show. Inspired by The Price Is Right, the designer staged a full episode to a live audience, with ovens, mattresses, and and a red Ferrari up for grabs. Supermodels like Bella Hadid played Bob Barker, and one enormous dress resembled a TV dinner, complete with peas, corn, and a grilled beef patty.

Of all the things I saw that day, I wanted it more than anything.

Moschino Fall 2019.
Inside Karl Lagerfeld’s Emotional Last Show at Fendi