Silvia Venturini Fendi's Heartfelt Homage To The Late Karl Lagerfeld
When Karl Lagerfeld was appointed Fendi’s artistic director, Silvia Venturini Fendi was only 5 years old. Some of her earliest memories involved sitting on the edge of his desk as a child, asking him one amusing question after another as he worked. Charmed by her curiosity, he never once turned her away and always indulged her eagerness to learn more.
Karl’s time at Fendi marked the longest collaboration between a fashion house and a designer in the history of fashion. But for Sylvia, the era gave her so much more. “He was the captain! So my life has changed in the way that now I decide. Before, there was a dialogue, a big dialogue. So today I feel the responsibility very much because the choices are mine—no compromise.”
To say that her mentor and friend was greatly missed at Fendi’s Spring/Summer 2020 show would be an understatement. Yet hope and love flourished everywhere, symbolised in the rising sun that was the memorable backdrop for her first womenswear collection since his passing, the artistry of each fascinating creation that came down the runway, and of course, Silvia herself, inspired by 54 wonderful years of friendship, creativity, wisdom, and so many fond memories.
Perhaps celebrating the joy Karl brought to so many, the creative director focused on the warmth and playfulness of summer with visions of endless blossoms and ethereal sunshine, referencing the dreamiest holiday destinations. “The island between Rome and Naples where you can see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, I think, in the world,” she once said, recalling the family house on Ponza, their picturesque retreat for wine-coloured days. “I think when you are in this period of year, you feel more liberated and relaxed than at any time, and you have that feeling of being ready for new experiences.” And a new experience this was, albeit one that stayed true to form.
Over the Rainbow
From the very first glance, one was bewitched by the collection’s cheery palette. A mix of acid brights jazzed up the runway, offset with paler shades of pink as well as delicious honey and pecan.
See also: The Fashion World’s Standing Ovation For Karl Lagerfeld
The visual play was truly sensual and arresting. Block-cut blanket flowers and blown-up gingham as well as intricate weaving and whimsical knits beckoned all to touch and feel. Graphic geometry, naughty transparency and strategic perforation teased the eye and imagination.
Colours and textures aside, it was unmistakably the house of Fendi’s heritage artisanal craftsmanship and narrative of elegance – cleverly concealed in its everyday decadence – that remained the star attraction, and continued Karl’s long legacy of creativity unbridled by history. That distinct Roman sensibility and utility wildly streaked with rebellion and unabashed femininity resulting in pure fashion bliss.
Must-read: 6 New Fashion Collaborations We Are Excited About
The German visionary excelled at crafting womenswear that spoke to the strong and bold. The women of Fendi revelled in its seamless blend of opulence and quiet luxury. “You think of the practicality of things,” said Sylvia. “I want women to feel natural and good in these clothes.”
Business & Pleasure
This was apparent in the welcome addition of pockets and thoughtful hemlines matched with honeycomb tulle that created artful suspensions, and the precious fur techniques translated into square twinset tailoring. Not to mention the ample jacket shapes bifurcated with diaphanous panels, all as utilitarian as they were spectacular. Breezy evenings on the beach? Yes, please.
There were covetable paper bag shorts and trousers in waxed or organic washed cottons to wear with double-buttoned shirt coats and jackets in cotton toweling, glazed florals or rich suede, bringing a sense of luxury to the season’s smarter essentials, said to be an imprint of Sylvia's own personal style. As did the unexpected touch of summer fur that popped up on floral lycra pieces or were skilfully knitted as a plush check. And who could forget the draped sheer sequins and filmy knits? Echoing the sculptural dimensions of cloudy quilting and cloqué, such pieces beautifully played up the fantasy and romance of moments warmed by the sun.
See also: 5 Micro Handbags Fuelling The Latest Fashion Fad
A closer look at the accessories saw a tactile reprise of the natural materials that brought the clothes to life. Add to wish list: The Peekaboo woven in compact raffia with latticework leather and open-weave FF logo toile. Equally desired was the Baguette that came encrusted with blanket flower marquetry and a new short-handle tote, finished in burnished calfskin and striped suede. And kicking back to quirkier times were slinky knee socks and stack-heeled slingback loafers, although others may prefer the prettiness of peep-toe sandals in a kaleidoscope of florals.
Fendi’s future remains as bright as the Milanese sun. Karl would have been proud.
- Photography Courtesy of Fendi