Karl Lagerfeld burns to work. It's his passion - thus the veritable Blitzkrieg of product with which he bombards us at his three shows each season, not to mention the hefty roster of licensees that bolster his own-name line. Alongside the bigger and more established likes of Fendi and Chanel, the recently-revived Karl Lagerfeld label can be seen as something of an outlet for those ideas that didn't quite make it into the already loose edits of the big two, the Kaiser's carte blanche as it were. Thus it can sometime seem a rag-bag: this season, Lagerfeld evidently had a sportif motif on mind that he chose to fully exercise through this label - skinny satin trousers with go-faster red piping popped out under skirts and dresses, and crash-helmets came clad in mink and astrakhan with luxurious blousons of the same. The need for speed was equally evident in slender evening dresses, slit for movement and with fluttering trains of fabric flailing after the body in motion. Lagerfeld is always light-years ahead of the game - where other designers are spending the last few days prior to their show deliberating over hemlines and finalising catwalk looks, Kaiser Karl already has this season finished, fitted, and a glossy portfolio of looks shot to boot (and is probably designing winter 2012 as we speak). As always this season the future was very much on his mind - he opened his show with a live synthpop set by Metronomy and sent his models out in sharp, sleek almost cosmonautic clothes for next season.
Despite the spare modernity of block-shouldered shapes and lean suiting, with crimped cascading hair, pumping electro on the soundtrack and a slit slatted Japanese backdrop that put one in mind of the Conran Book, there was more than a hint of the ever-present eighties redux. Maybe this was unintentional: paradoxically, in the cyclical merry-go-round of fashion, if you're too far ahead of the times you can sometimes seem behind. Maybe that is why Lagerfeld's metallic-speckled tweed suiting, mottled and matted fur panelling and fuzzy motorcycle helmets smacked of Prada not many moons ago (those silky trousers even reminiscent of said label's own lesser Sport line. The draped black jersey dress, square-cut at shoulders with leather gauntlets looked fresh, ditto the long knit dresses with which he closed (although the less said about the final black silk number coiled Gianfranco Ferre-style with beaded ropes of silver glitter, the better). If Lagerfeld, in theory, always has his bejewelled finger on the as-yet embryonic pulse of the next, next big thing, a show like this makes you wonder if it's possibly cutting off circulation to his brain.