Fendi’s ode to the double-edged sword of the Eternal City
Fendi went back to its roots Monday in its show in Milan, referencing all the contradictory elements of its hometown of Rome: the modern against the ancient, the diabolical competing with the sacred.
Fendi called the collection Fendi/Fiend Roma/Amor, and the dark tunnel setting, jet-black runway and somber color palette were all pretty menacing. As were the tiny demons, irate frogs and FF-tongued snakes incorporated into many looks.
“Our house logo even suggests it. The double Fs confronting each other. Rome will always be about the new confronting the old; the dark of night and the intense afternoon sun. Religion and abandon,” Silvia Fendi told FashionNetwork.com.
Even the music captured that dichotomy of sacred with profane: Blue Monday's Gregorian Chant version of the frankly suggestive How Does It Feel by New Order.
Good to see Fendi – LVMH’s most famous Italian brand – keep things in the family. Artist Nico Vascellari, the boyfriend of Silvia’s daughter, Delfina Delettrez, provided the sketches and graphics. Nico, as he is known, even whipped up a playing card that featured Silvia as a queen, and the house’s long-time creative director Karl Lagerfeld as a joker, nicknamed JoKarl.
The collection’s key element was the light blouson: in suede mesh cut like a duck hunters vest; or a golfers jerkin done in curvy Fs; or a square cashmere baseball jacket done with elastic waistband, cuffs and neckline. And in a season of high-tech plaid, few looked better than Fendi’s nylon organza versions.
“Silvia is such a free spirit, she creates with Roman spirit,” said Serge Brunschwig, the recently appointed CEO of Fendi. Evidently in an ebullient mood, as well he might be, for this runway was packed with highly commercial merchandise.
His next stop: Paris, where Fendi has a show during the French haute couture season on Wednesday, July 4. “A Fendi Couture show,” pointedly stressed Brunschwig, since the collection had previously been known as Haute Fourrure. “We want to enlarge to concept and offer,” nodded the CEO.
The fan base was certainly large and eclectic in the front row: blond beauty Jamie Campbell Bower, lead singer of youth band Counterfeit and Harry Potter alumni; rapper M.I.A. (head to toe in logos); Last Night In Paris the UK rap band; Anglo-French actor and César nominee Finnegan Oldfield; boxer Chris Eubanks Jr; hot Hamburg influencer Caroline Daur, and Chinese rap star Miss Vava.
Backstage, well one almost thought one was on the Bund in Shanghai, so numerous were the Chinese fans and VIPs, craving selfies with Silvia Fendi. Every single fan sporting some form of double FF. And on the catwalk, it was hard to remember a single look without a logo; on golfer’s floppy caps; chunky river running sandals or on of the scores of bags the cast carried.
And while it is true that few houses have utilized their brand power as spectacularly as Fendi, sometimes the branding does become a tad overpowering. There is logomania; there is logo overload – a frontier that Fendi may be perilously close to passing.
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