So the technicians at Fendi, skilled in the dark arts of making a mink look like a honeycomb, or a ploughed field, have turned their ingenuity to other materials.
How Fendi has adapted to fashion’s fur-free era
The backlash against fur has had staying power. With brands such as Gucci and Armani waving goodbye to mink trim and fox cuffs, it’s not just vegan Stella McCartney, a lone prophet in the wilderness.
So what is a house like Fendi, which started life in 1925 as a fur boutique for the bourgeoisie of Rome, to do? For starters, it has renamed its show this season as haute couture where once it was haute fourrure. And this is not just a shallow rebranding exercise. It has also turned away from look after look of floor-sweeping precious skins.
But the alternatives to fur are also troubling. A fake mink coat made from the by-products of petrol could be just as bad in some ways as the real thing.
Grace Kelly would have loved the peach coloured tulle gowns, with their fitted bodices and sweeping skirts. In keeping with the general aesthetic, bags and shoes (the preserve of Silvia Venturini Fendi) were pretty, colourful and ladylike. The models’ beehives and feline eye makeup also owed something to Tippi Hedren, though what the birds would have made of the final coat, an explosion of peach-coloured shearling, feathers and organza probably doesn’t bear thinking of.
The show looked retro. But the ideas are a possible guide to the future of haute couture.