Fendi A/W 2015. Photo credit:Yannis Vlamos /

Sylvia Fendi may be the savior of the Fendi brand. Granted, all the Italian leather houses have taken a substantial economic hit the past four or five years and Fendi is certainly struggling to maintain year-over-year sales numbers. What Ms. Fendi does, though, is keep the house DNA in check, preventing Karl Lagerfeld from totally running amok as he does with Chanel and making sure that what has made Fendi popular is not lost.

That task has never been more evident than it was with this morning’s autumn/winter 2015 presentation. Lagerfeld was clearly in a 60s kind of mood with cropped, flared leg pants that stop mid-calf and button down blouses that hit on a strangely austere trend we’ve been seeing, but are likely to be questionable items when they hit the store shelves this fall. Ms. Fendi counters that with a surprisingly minimalist take on pinafores and simplistic leather tabards that result in new silhouettes. Patchwork panels done in fur have Lagerfeld written all over them. Layered leather panels on skirts, though, are distinctly different even if I’m not quite sure about that button on the back hip.

Colors stay more on the autumnal side of things though a crimson fur coat is shockingly bright and some of the head-to-toe orange ensembles were challenging for the eyes. More often than not, browns mixed into the looks and we never really saw colors quite as bright as the decorations on the wall and show notes had hinted. If anything, the overall palette is more subdued than what we’ve seen in recent seasons.

Of course, Fendi always reaches beyond the borders of common sense a little bit. Today, the most obvious what-are-you-thinking look was fur pants. Shaggy fur pants. It’s hard to imagine how this could ever be a good concept to pursue, but giving it that cropped and flared treatment only made it look all the more silly. Then, there were the exaggerated quilting looks that gave pieces a severely puffy look. This element actually worked for some of the more cropped jackets done in patchwork suede. When applied to a tea-length white dress with oversized pockets, though, the poor model looked as though she’d been dressed in pillows. I guess that could be a good look if one is going to the narcoleptic market but otherwise the piece is too impractical to even consider.

And then, Karl has to always add a strange kotchki to the bags in the Fendi collection. This season we get a brightly colored bird that is actually larger than some of the clutches to which it was attached. At least the bird is identifiable, though, and not quite as ego-centric as the Karl doll of last year.

As all leather houses struggle to remain vital in today’s fashion market, taking risks and trying new things is something more labels need to do. Sylvia Fendi gets a lot right in this collection makes sure Lagerfeld doesn’t purge the house of its history and DNA. While this is never a retail-ready presentation, there is a lot here that makes one anxious to see what actually hits the store shelves this fall. Fendi has the ability to really generate some excitement in the market this fall.

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