The backdrop of the Fendi show was a gargantuan dial - like a compass, perhaps, or a clock's hours mapped out in monochrome. It's hard to tell which: if it was a watch-face, it was always Fendi o'clock; if it was a compass, we were always travelling straight towards a couple of intertwined F's.
Karl Lagerfeld likes to have fun with his show sets. Unlike other designers, they're rarely a way into his clothes - merely a funny, puny backdrop to flash the cash of whichever megabrand he's currently pumping full of his inimitable creative jus. This time, however, both a compass and a clock clicked with the Fendi frocks on offer. The compass hinted at a vague Riviera-air in nautical stripes and crisps contrasts of red, white and blue. And as for that clock? Well, maybe Lagerfeld was turning it back. There was an air of the sixties to this offering - that decade was when Lagerfeld first picked up the reins at Fendi, and although he would doubtless refute the claim, perhaps the Kaiser was in a reflective mood. Then again, maybe that sixties mood simple came from the bug-eyed Jackie O sunglasses, or Sam McKnight's teased bouffants - slightly dishevelled, like Marella Agnelli windswept and fabulous aboard La Leopolda.
Whether looking forwards, backwards, port or starboard, what we got were some terrific clothes. They seemed nautical not only in their matzot banding but in their no-nonsense cut and eminent practicality. The air of the sixties wasn't some retro rehash - the freedom of the decade was evoked in their easy, breezy simplicity - as easy as tweed culottes, as airy as perforated suede cut into A-line skirts and a roomy hooded parka. Men's shirting, finely striped like the catwalk the models paraded across, was cut into swinging shirt-dresses collared in pique, folded around the body and buttoned in brass. This collection was focussed on wearability and eminent practicality - Kitty D'Alessio, formerly of Chanel, once commented that Lagerfeld never made a pair of trousers you couldn't board a plane in. Presumably, boarding a plane is much the same as leaping on board a yacht. Fendi's moneyed clients will undoubtedly be doing plenty of both in these garments.
What struck me most about this Fendi show, however, were the simplest touches giving the greatest design impact. Example: Lagerfeld snipped semi-circles in the shoulders of taut blazers, shirts and cotton frocks, allowing the shoulders to peek through. It was so rudimentary it could have been a mere slip of the scissors, but it evoked sunnier climes, bronzed bones, wealth and power. Well, at least it did to me. It also looked fantastic. Minimum input, maximum output. That's what gives Lagerfeld's collections their dynamic edge.