Fur was long the backbone of Fendi’s offerings (founded in 1925 as a furrier and maker of leather goods, its FF logo stands not for Fendi-Fendi, but Fun Fur!), and Lagerfeld’s job was to expand its ready-to-wear category. For the maison, Lagerfeld focused on textile innovation, cutting, shaving, and patchworking pelts of fur. “This experimental mood also translated into the regular textiles of the brand,” says Lyon. “You can find the most interesting and gorgeous weaves and sophisticated knits; Italian craftsmanship was always paramount at Fendi.”
But if timelessness was at the core of Lagerfeld’s work at Fendi, over at Chloé, as Lyon explains, clothing reacted to the moment. “Chloé, unlike Fendi, was all about trend, so these pieces do come up for sale often.” (Though not a design from Lagerfeld’s Chloé, Lyon cites a Stella McCartney for Chloé piece he recently sold. The lucky buyer? Kendall Jenner.)
As Lyon notes, Chloé already had solid DNA (flou, lace, romance, youth—garb for the Parisian woman with that elusive je ne sais quoi) when Lagerfeld took the helm. “He worked within those restrictions to create for the house. I call them ‘restrictions’ because Karl’s lines, when he is most true to himself, are strong, sharp, and intentional. This juxtaposition of vibes ended up producing some of the most interesting and long-lasting designs.”
For What Goes Around Comes Around’s cofounder and CEO, Seth Weisser, Lagerfeld for Chloé was also empowering women for the workplace. “In the 1970s, Karl designed the billowy, poet blouse for Chloé, which was great for career women because it was very wearable and feminine, but yet still professional. If Weisser directed you to shop one item from this era, it would be that exactly. “It was a trendy item that caught widespread attention, but this silhouette is a trend that always finds itself back into fashion.”
At the moment, What Goes Around Comes Around has a retrospective of Lagerfeld at its Soho store—but all the goodies can be shopped online, too. Here, find oodles of Chanel, Chloé, Fendi, and even some rare Jean Patou pieces. Over at Morphew, there’s a Lagerfeld for Chloé dress; the black silk shift features a silver lurex panel and ruffles. “Karl’s hand is 100% visible whilst retaining the soft romance of the brand,” Lyon says. “Regarding Karl-era Chloé, buy it when you find it. Even if you end up deciding it is not a piece for you, they are always a solid investment.”
With the Met’s exhibition set to open on May 5, an already high interest in all things Lagerfeld is expected to reach a fever pitch. The search for vintage Lagerfeld is likely to peak as well—and it’s all for the better. Bolton recalled the late designer saying, “Fashion is not art—fashion belongs on the street, on women’s bodies, on men’s bodies.” So go ahead, get that Fendi dress.