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A fashionable friendship: Karl Lagerfeld on his long-lasting collaboration with Fendi

It's a partnership that the entire fashion world would envy. Luxury fashion house Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld have worked alongside each other for more than half a century, making it a collaboration which – according to Lagerfeld – should be in the Guinness Book of Records.

For fashion designer Lagerfeld, he himself could not have imagined the collaboration lasting as long as it has, telling the "CNBC Conversation" that today's fashion world is not like what it was when they first joined forces in 1965.

"Everything has changed, and nothing has changed more than the world of fashion," Lagerfeld told CNBC's Tania Bryer, who started his partnership with the fashion house around the concept of fur design.

"(The Fendi sisters) had tons of energy and I think I had a little good energy too. So it worked, it was great. The 70s were great, the 80s."

"After that it was a little different because the world of fashion changed so much, that in the end it became a LVMH business which is very good, because (that's) when (CEO) Bernard Arnault really invested in it, and look what Fendi is now."

Karl Lagerfeld arrives at the Fendi New York Flagship Boutique Inauguration Party
Dave Kotinsky | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Karl Lagerfeld arrives at the Fendi New York Flagship Boutique Inauguration Party

One of the latest collaborations Lagerfeld got behind, as Fendi's creative director, was the fashion house's 90th anniversary and its "Legends and Fairy Tales" collection.

The event – to showcase Fendi's Haute Fourrure 2016-17 collection – showed models "walk on water" at the Trevi Fountain in Rome; an iconic fountain which had recently undergone a 17-month renovation that was sponsored by the Italian house.

For Fendi, it was "important" for them to associate themselves with the fountain and the city for this event, as several million visit Rome every year, and "they believe the association between 'La Dolce Vita', the beauty of Rome and the brand is very beneficial," Fendi's CEO, Pietro Beccari told CNBC.


Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi acknowledge the applause of the public after the Fendi Roma 90 Years Anniversary fashion show at Fontana di Trevi on July 7, 2016
Vittorio Zunino Celotto | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi acknowledge the applause of the public after the Fendi Roma 90 Years Anniversary fashion show at Fontana di Trevi on July 7, 2016

Designer and Fendi Creative Director, Silvia Venturini Fendi said the "Legends and Fairy Tales" fashion show was the "perfect way of celebrating our anniversary".

Meanwhile Lagerfeld described the anniversary as a "magical moment" that couldn't be easily replicated, the fashion designer is more concerned about the future and what's next for the fashion industry.

"I don't look at my old work," said Lagerfeld when talking about the anniversary, adding that "I personally, I'm not interested in my own past. I'm only interested in today, perhaps tomorrow."

And Lagerfeld's sharp focus on the future hasn't gone unnoticed, with Fendi's CEO telling CNBC that Lagerfeld's "mentality is contagious", adding that the designer's focus on the future is a good lesson Beccari learnt himself by working with Lagerfeld.

"I think the secret is the mentality that Karl has," said Beccari.

"(Karl) was born with this incredible curiosity; he wants to go 'what's happened next'. And at the end of each show, he turns around and says 'OK it's done. What do we do next?'"

You can watch "CNBC Conversation with Karl Lagerfeld" on Thursday 12 January at 10.00 p.m. U.K. time (5.00 p.m. ET).

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