Fendi; What’s Going On?

The inspiration behind Fendi’s Spring/Summer collection is perhaps not initially obvious; the designs have sprung from thoughts of Rome, particularly the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, the stately mid-century building in which Fendi have made their new headquarters. Designer Karl Lagerfeld said that his latest offerings were influenced by his thinking on fashion and architecture, and how both have been used to express the avant-garde over the past century.

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His co-designer, Silvia Venturini Fendi, had a slightly different approach. She said backstage that inspiration came not from the building itself, but from what was above it. “The incredible Roman sky, there’s nothing more beautiful,” she said. “The way it goes from blue to the reds and oranges of the sunset. That’s what informs the collection; lightness, air, the natural world—but projected into real life.”

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Indeed, there was a great deal of “lightness” and movement in the trails of fringe and tattered hemlines of dresses, and in the filmy plastic layers which shimmered around individual pieces.

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There was also a sense of forward movement in the metaphorical sense; the assertively structured silhouettes, slouchy pants and denim elements were all infused with a youthful vitality, a sense of a Fendi that is swooping forth to dress the generation of the future. Lagerfeld in particular is constantly looking to move one step ahead of the times, and here he dresses his pretty young things (led by the inescapable Cara Delevingne) in clothes designed for pretty young people.

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And the orchid became the symbol of Lagerfeld’s Acolytes, printed and woven and embroidered everywhere, laser-cut into leather and slipped into fur bomber jackets; leather orchids even held the models’ hair in place.

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The beauty of this collection lay in the fact that it looked so effortless, despite the complicated concepts and meticulous level of detail; the suede worked into bias-cut dresses perfectly encapsulates this juxtaposition between apparent ease and the detailed reality, which is the mark of true elegance.

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The Fendi wit was also present, particularly in the bags; the famous Baguette was back in various guises, with one accompanied by its own plastic sleeve in case of rain. Meanwhile, make-up artist Peter Philips sliced up the brand’s leather hairbands and affixed them to the models’ lash lines as an alternative to make-up. “Karl came to me and said, ‘Peter, I like this color, can you make it into an eyeliner?’ So that’s what I did!” he explained.

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Whilst I’m probably going to be sticking with my boring old black eyeliner for now (I’m so behind the times), Fendi’s slouchy silhouettes, the flatforms, the fur, the orchids; those are all slices of sartorial success that I can really get behind. A stylish and technically accomplished collection, which remembers to be playful; now, that’s something.

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