It appears the time has come to make an addition to the Shrimpton Couture Family Tree of Haute Couture––an exhaustive and comprehensive education in the family of haute couture houses for those uninitiated. Karl Lagerfeld, 81 years old and a perennial well of creative energy, has unveiled to much anticipation the first couture collection for the house of Fendi made entirely of fur for fall/winter 2015. Haute fourrure is certainly not a thing we hear tossed around in fashion much these days––when was the last time you saw a fur shop that didn’t look like a portal to 1980? But these certainly aren’t your grandmother’s mink coats that we saw at Fendi. In fact, the 36-look collection was ample in its range of what I can only assume to be very exotic (and very, very expensive) furs and feathers. I couldn’t identify most of their origin species to save my soul.
Interestingly enough, Lagerfeld, who shirks and derides looking to the past (“This is one of the sicknesses of our period, to look back. No, forget about it. Fashion is now and tomorrow. Who cares about the past?”), seems to be doubling up on the nostalgia with his haute fourrure collection. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Karl’s tenure at Fendi and a return to the brand’s heritage as fine Italian furriers. With animal rights gaining popularity in the past few decades, fur has gone extremely out of favor. No doubt PETA made its presence felt outside the Fendi show.
Aside from the politics surrounding the collection, Lagerfeld appeared to be canvasing an array of cultural imagery with his furs from Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce to Rachael from Blade Runner’s infamous fur coat. Interestingly, it seemed as if Lagerfeld was recalling the entire history of fetishized textiles with this collection, with fur being one of the original textural fetishes, as well as silk, leather, and latex, all of which made an appearance in the collection. One way or another, Lagerfeld is certainly making a statement, definitely a hotly contestable one. Given the sheer lack of cultural significance given to fur as of late (when was the last time you saw a housewife pining over a mink coat Lucille Ball style?), Lagerfeld might just be making a case for fur as the next frontier in avant-garde luxury.
Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945)
Sean Young as Rachael in Blade Runner (1982)