There is a sense of mild panic on the opening day of Milan fashion week. Despite some big hitters showing (Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Valentino), with three A-list fashion labels absent from the calendar (Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Versace), it is hard not to link this shrunken lineup with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry.
It has been nearly a year since Giorgio Armani had to cancel invites to his show and presented his collection behind closed doors because of the virus. According to estimates by the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI), the business has continued to decline, which organises Milan fashion week, total turnover at Italian fashion companies has declined by 25%.
There was plenty of brown, fashion’s shade of the moment, in Fendi’s collection. Photograph: Fendi/Reuters
So if you are a fashion designer, there are reasons to be glum. But Fendi’s creative director, Kim Jones, remains optimistic. “Our sales have been crazy,” he says during a pre-show Zoom interview. “People are buying everything they buy normally – there is that element of dressing up that people are desperate for. They want to dress up.”
For Fendi – perhaps best known for its baguette handbag and Karl Lagerfeld’s stewardship – its customers have not stopped living la vie en rose. “The customers have not stopped buying, they can’t do what they normally do, so they are buying lots of things,” he says. “I’m constantly surprised by what people buy.”
The Fendi woman’s spending power can be seen in the collection, which focuses on opulent minimalism. Film noir-ish capes, snakeskin boots and unfortunately enough fur to feel problematic. The sleek looks, which would not look out of place on Killing Eve’s Villanelle or The Flight Attendant’s Miranda Croft, were modelled on the women in the Fendi dynasty: the menswear creative director, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and her daughter Delfina Delettrez.
“This collection is for them – I’ve got the best group of women who I want to dress,” said Jones.