That haute couture is a client-focused pursuit is hardly lost on Kim Jones, who meticulously tracks what sells from each of his Fendi collections, and pens a personal thank you note with each order.
That’s why dresses that are graceful and easy to wear have formed the backbone of recent collections, even though the late Karl Lagerfeld initially launched the Roman fashion house into the high-fashion arena back in 2015 with haute fourrure.
There were a couple of fur coats in Jones’ fall 2023 lineup, but they were more akin to a plush bathrobe you tug around yourself than a status symbol — achieved by mounting feathered shearling on organza, or tufting alternating rows of recycled fox and feathers.
Jones also takes into account the stylish women in his inner circle, headlined by Delfina Delettrez Fendi, his coconspirator for Fendi couture, and fabulous friends like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Donatella Versace, who attended Thursday’s show. As an informal focus group of glamorous women with packed social calendars, his is hard to top.
Jones decided to make Delettrez’s latest collection of high jewelry, dubbed “Fendi Triptych” and numbering about 30 pieces, the springboard for his fall effort, which was rendered in earthy and jewel tones and boasted such embellishments as scattered sparkles, intricate embroideries with the finest metal chains, and gossamer “naked” dresses with jeweled necklines built right in.
Simplicity has emerged as one of the big stories of Paris Couture Week, with many designers preferring austere silhouettes achieved with as few seams as possible. Jones is in that camp. “I’m looking at what people want, I have to think about what the world is now,” he said backstage.
Noticing that the draped dresses he did last season sold extremely well, Jones went to town with liquid jersey and meaty satin, creating semi-caped and gently whorled silhouettes. Knit corsets often accentuated the waist, and sometimes became little bandage-like minidresses.
“Almost athleisure wear,” Jones mused. “There’s different kinds of couture, and I appreciate them all. But mine is very much about reality, how the woman that wears it feels when she’s going to an event…something nice, elegant and easy to wear.”
This low-key, realistic brand of couture does not necessarily make for a riveting fashion show, especially when the soundtrack is Klaus Nomi’s droning, funereal take on Baroque opera.
As the show plodded along, the clothes gradually accrued more impressive surface textures, culminating with some Leigh Bowery-esque outfits glittering with stacks of big sequins and stones.
The finale look — a loose, shrugged-on jacket and wrap skirt — took 1,200 hours of work, but it still looked effortless, fulfilling Jones’ promise.