Fendi deploys catwalk drones in fashion first

MILAN - Italian luxury brand Fendi deployed three drones to film its catwalk show at Milan Fashion Week on Thursday - a first for the fashion world that divided spectators.

The drones whirred ominously overhead in the closed showroom as Karl Lagerfeld's collection flowed along the runway, with the models seemingly unfazed by the new technology.

The drone cams making their debut had red and green lights underneath and were brand-yellow on top with the Fendi name emblazoned on them.

Even the coolest fashionistas pointed at them and snapped them on their phones, while Vogue Italia magazine editor Franca Sozzani could be seen shaking her head with a bemused look.

The drones "allow us to be pioneers once again and project ourselves into the future", said Pietro Beccari, chairman of Fendi, which is owned by French luxury giant LVMH.

Beccari said the drone footage, which was streamed live on Fendi's website and on social media, would "give our fans a chance to see the show like it has never been seen".

Trend analysts said the deployment of drones reflected the fashion industry's attachment to technological innovation and photographers have already been using them for some time.

The military and spying technology of drones seemed oddly appropriate for a collection that looked back to the wartime 1940s - with a green-and-brown colour palette, fur shoulder wraps, ankle-length trench coats and gloves.

The fur-clad model who opened the show, Britain's Cara Delevingne, held up a puppet of Lagerfeld as she strutted - with his distinctive black attire and white ponytail.

The real-life Lagerfeld, a Paris-based German designer who is also creative director at Chanel, took a bow to applause after the show.

The look was classical and supremely elegant but there were also contemporary flourishes - like the tufts of green fur on a black fur coat or sewn-on fishnet pockets on jackets.

Yurata, a fashion editor from InStyle magazine in Moscow, said she liked the drones.

"It's very futuristic. Nobody does this!" she gushed, saying she was awed by the show.

"It's very spectacular, from number one!" US fashion writer Derek Blasberg joked on Twitter that they were perhaps being used "to see who in fashion has the best bald spot".

Nowfashion.com's editor-in-chief Jessica Michault quipped that they were also "fanning the front row" and the popular Style.com tweeted: "The runways are alive with robots".

But Kai Margrander, fashion director at Glamour magazine in Germany, said he had been "irritated" by the flying contraptions even though he thought the collection was Lagerfeld's "strongest" for Fendi in years.

"I'm from Germany. We're very suspicious of things like that from our past with the Nazis and the Stasi in the East," he said.

"All this filming and listening, I don't like it at all and I didn't like it at the show."