Sunday, November 6, 2016

'East of the Sun, West of the Moon'-Inspired Designs Walk on Water for Fendi's 90th Anniversary

At this time of great tension, immediately prior to the 2016 US election, we've decided rather than dwell on those anxieties, that we'd focus on beauty - call it eye candy, if you will - but either way, it lifts the soul and reminds us not all the world is an ugly place right now. Our posting will likely be a little sparse or very brief, over the coming week as things unfold and, hopefully, resolve, but we believe in the power of beauty and stories to ground people and aim to make the world a better place, and we will continue to be here to note it as we can. 

For all those US citizens who can vote, please do that: vote, no matter which side you lean toward, and please choose wisely: think of the future of your/our children, and of the world. You are choosing the future for more than one country and more than one people. It's that important.

In the meantime, we assume there is no real deciding left to be done, only to wait for the polls to open, so let's think on lovely and inspiring things.
“In my wildest imagination, I never thought something like this could exist,” he mused in a pre-show conversation. “To do this on a crystal bridge over the most famous fountain in the world? If that’s not a fairy tale, I don’t know what a fairy tale is.” (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, CHANEL, FENDI - KARL LAGERFELD)
Rome's famous Trevi fountain, after a one and a half year $2.4 million rehab, recently added to its already existing fairy tale status by becoming the stage for Fendi's 90th anniversary Legends and Fairy Tales Collection debut. A crystal-like walkway was built right over the water, (out of plexi-glass) and the models, walking on the water (yes - ON), told Fendi's own spin of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, in the procession of Kay Nielsen inspired wearable art over the evening.

The collection spun its own tale: a princess journeying from day to night, the colour palette darkening as she travelled further into the woods. Consistent throughout was the subtle application of Fendi’s extraordinary craftsmanship, the way, for instance, an insect’s wings illuminated by sunlight were duplicated in a tiny clutch of feathers, or the flowers around the hem of an organza dress had petals of mink. (Business of Fashion)
"It is an extraordinary experience to see East of the Sun and West of the Moon take on a totally new life in the hands of Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi, and it's an absolute delight to see how the images so directly inspired his breathtaking 90th anniversary show," stated editor Noel Daniel. "The artistry and craftsmanship and love behind each flower, each branch, each hue of sky is unbelievable. The tales have proved yet again to be eternally inspiring." (dexigner)
The inspiration began with the recent TASCHEN release of Kay Nielsen's beautiful illustrations and developed from there.
It all started with an early 20th century edition of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a Norwegian fairy tale with pictures by the famous children’s book illustrator Kay Nielsen, which Lagerfeld found at his friend Sandy Brant’s place. His curiosity was piqued. “This was something from the North, we were making a fur collection, and the pictures were something in between art nouveau and art deco,” he explained. (It was also, coincidentally, an era when the designer liked the way fashion used fur, as opposed to later decades when everything got much too heavy for him.) “So we asked the estate for permission to use them.” And that is how Nielsen’s illustrations came to be reproduced in a minutely-intarsia-ed mink coat, or embroidered on a flowing empire-line gown then re-appliqued with fur and organza. (Contemporary artists Katy Bailey and Charlotte Gastaut also contributed ideas.) (Business of Fashion)

Lagerfeld explained, “I called the show Legends and Fairy Tales, because it’s a collection that doesn’t relate to everybody like ready-to-wear, this is very special for people who have a special kind of life”. (hausmag)
We didn't report on this back in July during the event and, frankly, fashion is a little difficult to keep track of, as fairy tales are commonly linked with fashion, and it's almost always possible to find a connection. While that's historically been the trend, one could argue it's more so the case today, with much more emphasis on a theatrical and 'transportive' presentation of themed collections.

Today, while themed collections often tell stories through their clothes and construction, the runway shows themselves are no longer just platforms for models to parade the designs, but are expected to build an atmosphere of fantasy and of a different world. It's not uncommon, even, for these stages to be specially built to specific design specifications, just like a theater set, but to involve mechanics and moving parts, revealing either the paths to be trod or the models, acting as the 'prelude' to the show, or story, being modeled in the wearable art that follows.

We greatly recommend you look at this incredibly artful behind-the-scenes video, showing the design and construction process right through to the show. It's short but leaves us wanting much more in terms of the tales hinted at in the seams. We are seriously considering keeping this little wonder-peek for our fairy tale library and future inspiration:

This video is enough to make us seriously consider a change in vocation!

We'll leave you with more lovely designs reflecting Nielsen's inspiring fairy tale illustrations. (We're guessing you won't mind the few overlaps necessary to show you the range of the collection.)



  1. I love all of the clothes and want to wear them! Time to find that edition of East of the Sun West of the Moon.

  2. Oh. My. Goodness! I have this book. Now I'd love some of those clothes!

  3. EXCEPT the fur of course. I can't bear the thought of the fur and where it was torn from. :( If there's one thing I've learned from fairy tales - it's that kindness is and should be highly valued.

    1. I agree 100%. (Vegan family here.) Can't quite believe that a leading fashion designer still resorts to using real fur. I was going to exclude the comment about fur but then realized people should know, so they can make a conscious choice about supporting/buying Fendi - be aware it's not cruelty-free. It's the one big thing that disappointed me about the show and gave it a dark shadow.