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Published by Sugar & Cream, Friday 24 May 2024

Images courtesy of FENDI

Utilitarian and extravagant. Simple and theatrical. Salon and street. Town and country.

“I was looking at 1984 in the FENDI archives. The sketches reminded me of London during that period: the Blitz Kids, the New Romantics, the adoption of workwear, aristocratic style, Japanese style…” says Kim Jones, Artistic Director of Couture and Womenswear. “It was a point when British subcultures and styles became global and absorbed global influences. Yet still with a British elegance in ease and not giving a damn what anybody else thinks, something that chimes with Roman style. FENDI has a background in utility. And the way the Fendi family dresses, it’s really with an eye on that. I remember when I first met Silvia Venturini Fendi, she was wearing a very chic utilitarian suit – almost a Safari suit. That fundamentally shaped my view of what FENDI is: it is how a woman dresses that has something substantial to do. And she can have fun while doing it.”

Utilitarian and extravagant. Simple and theatrical. Salon and street. Town and country. It is an amalgam of each, where tradition meets subversion in blasé British style, that unites it with its Roman counterpart. At the same time, for the women who wear these clothes, it is fundamentally about doing something rather than just being something.

Presented by Galleria

In the latest collection, Kim Jones explores an ease of dressing where London nonchalance meets Roman freedom, and utility becomes a statement of intent. Here luxury is found in the sumptuous comfort and strident confidence the clothing and accessories give the wearer to express themselves. Simultaneously practical and playful, a sense of duality – a very FENDI quality – infuses the collection.

Starting with the rigour of tailoring, a feminine sensibility that embraces the austerity of sinuous lines in a more rounded silhouette, utilises the graphic precision of rich, compact wools. While layered wool coats are casually tied and belted, borrowing more from the language of robes. Knitwear can appear as sleek, layered second skins in silk ribs or more vernacular, almost homespun ‘interventions’ employing traditional British styles such as the Aran and Guernsey. Utilitarian dresses take on a more ‘tailored flou’ sensibility, simultaneously practical and elegant with toughness in attitude and are contrasted with tulle and organza transparencies, printed with Roman statuary* or embroidered with disruptive dots. At the same time, shearlings and leathers come into their own with a tour de force of techniques, at once displaying FENDI’s artisanal prowess and subverting expectations of the tradition. From high-shine waxed finishes to the unique Agugliato needle-punched process, and the ultimate in intarsia expression, new fabrications are created that provide the wearer with supple protection and contentment, tactility and fundamental comfort.

Simultaneously, FENDI’s past is made present in recurring codes and motifs that stretch back to the beginnings of the house. With 2025’s centenary in mind, the linking thread of the Selleria once more ties the present to the past, as a motif in garments and leather goods. From its initial inspiration and creation by Roman master saddlers, the Selleria finds form this season perhaps most startlingly in the leather riding boots that dominate the collection, the Chupa Chups® lollipop holder – Salvador Dalí drew the logo after all which is now united with FF wrapping – and in the designs by Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Artistic Director of Jewellery. Here, metal thread hardware is stitched through statement leather bangles, while its meaning is echoed again in giant leather and metal chains.

In the bags by Silvia Venturini Fendi, Artistic Director of Accessories and Menswear, past styles are deconstructed and revivified, constructions softened and reconfigured. Eschewing embellishment and embracing tactility and utility, sumptuous leathers in rich, natural colours dominate new versions of Peekaboo, Baguette and By The Way bags. While introducing the new Simply FENDI, a soft satchel that is accompanied by the Roll bag, a new rounded shopper. Worn in multiples and grasped in a multiplicity of ways, there is a reiteration in this gesture that there is not just one FENDI woman, but many FENDI women with an encouragement for them to find themselves in what they choose and what they wear.

*Statues that are featured:
Roman art, Statua femminile ammantata – Roman art, Testa colossale di divinità, Courtesy of Galleria Borghese. Immacolata Concezione, Courtesy of Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi, Pii Stabilimenti della Francia a Roma e a Loreto.

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