Fendi kicked off New York's Fashion Week with a show celebrating its flagship Baguette bag, in a strong comeback for the runway after pandemic disruption.
The Italian luxury house pulled out all the stops 25 years after the small bag became a fashion staple when it was carried by actress Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex and the City," with 1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista closing out the show on Friday, 15 years after she last walked a runway.
The bag's creator Silvia Venturini Fendi and the artistic director of Fendi's women's collections, Kim Jones, collaborated with designer Marc Jacobs, Tiffany & Co., Sarah Jessica Parker herself and the Japanese bag manufacturer Porter.
The result was an entire collection designed around the compact, rectangular purse -- known for being worn under the shoulder, like carrying a baguette.
With techno music pounding through Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom, models paraded with every form of the Baguette possible.
There were bags, yes, but also mini Baguettes stitched on to Baguettes, or woven into the fabric of the clothes themselves -- pockets, parkas and sweaters; parachute skirts, cellophane opera capes and large fur hats -- recycled, says Fendi.
Silver and fluorescent yellow tones ran throughout, in homage to the glass facades of New York's skyscrapers and to the safety vests worn by the city's ubiquitous workers.
The '90s are back
Meanwhile, the triumphant return of Evangelista came a year after she announced she was stepping out of the spotlight after botched cosmetic treatments.
She was not the only star: Sarah Jessica Parker, of course, also attended; as did South Korean actor and model Lee Min-ho, who was greeted by a cheering crowd as he exited on to 34th Street.
Covid-19 saw Fashion Week all but scrubbed in 2020, while in 2021 live shows returned but without many designers.
In 2022, however, it is back to its frenetic pace, with 101 shows on the official calendar through Wednesday, and the three other major shows -- in London, Paris and Milan -- to follow.
"The live show is something that is not replaceable," Steven Kolb, chief executive of the American fashion union (CFDA), told AFP.
New York brand Proenza Schouler also held its show Friday, in the monumental hall of one of the city's first Beaux-Arts buildings in Manhattan's financial district.
The American brand Tommy Hilfiger is also among the big names to be parading in New York this season.
But it is the European houses such as Fendi, Marni of Italy, and COS, part of the Swedish H&M group, that CFDA is especially pleased to see.
"That really elevates the international reputation of New York," says Kolb, who also sees it as a recognition of the size of the US market.
Even before the pandemic, New York had to deal with major defections such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, who wanted a change of pace or went to show their collections elsewhere.
And the American market still has to do without a great talent like Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss, this season.(AFP)