FENDI SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

As well as emergence from lockdown, this collection marked a stage in Fendi’s transition from Karl, Silvia’s womenswear confrère for so many decades, to Kim Jones, her newly-elected brother in arms.

By Balthzar Malevolent

FENDI SPRING 2021 READY-TO-WEAR

This first real, live—and alive—show of Milan’s reawakening Fashion Week opened with prints of photographs taken during lockdown by Silvia Venturini Fendi from her bedroom window. It closed with Leon Dame and Paloma Elsesser amongst those swathed in snuggly satin quilting and pale lace embroidered linens. “This reminded me of Karl [Lagerfeld],” said Fendi pre-show: “He had a love for bed linen, he had a big collection.”

As well as emergence from lockdown, this collection marked a stage in Fendi’s transition from Karl, Silvia’s womenswear confrère for so many decades, to Kim Jones, her newly-elected brother in arms. Mid-chat, Fendi’s new womenswear creative director dropped in, to ciao. “I’m here to celebrate Silvia,” he said: “ I love this woman.”

Love was the common thread in a collection forged during the surreally intense domestic experience of lockdown. It saw past models, collections, concepts, and most definitely bags tenderly renewed, stories told afresh. All were presented with a fondness accentuated by recent absence, and (at least in the room) viewed that way too: before the show (distanced) benchmates shared their delight at being together here again (although afterwards we all ran off as usual).

The loungewear and pajamas and floaty wood-printed caftans had a follow-on relationship to last season’s ‘boardroom to boudoir’ collection; “but here,” said Fendi, “she was a little more… sweet.” Much of the collection was cut in barely-dyed but beautifully embroidered linen, a fabric Fendi said she had chosen thanks to its simplicity and sustainability. Runway bags ran from a sweetly naif rattan version of a child’s beach bag to a wicker picnic basket—SVF on its leather monogram tag—that was a nod to Fendi’s wonderful recent menswear ‘gardening’ collection. Cecilia Chancellor wore a jacket featuring trompe l’oeil embossed buttons that also glanced backwards at another collection dedicated to inversions in tailoring.

Prodigal accessory daughters were the Baguette and Peekaboo, incarnated in a host of collection-specific fabrications (shaved mink, braided ajouré, artisan-hewn bobbin lace, and fisherman-woven willow). Often these were presented with their own little offspring minibags, plus gloves, clipped to the side: All were shrouded in lace and linens like freshly christened infants. There were also sweet reprises for the Fendi x Chaos collaboration strapped to some looks.

Fernando Cabral, Karen Elson, Maty Fall, Ashley Graham, Eva Herzigova, Yasmin Le Bon, and Penelope Tree (so wonderful to see her in a show IRL) were all part of a cast as diverse as the swathe of reminiscence Fendi was mustering in this collection. Naturally there were some seriously savoir-faire saturated sections in fur. Maty Fall wore a loosely woven coat of nappa and mink over a floral-pressed romper, Vilma Sjöberg a dégradé coat of knitted fox, and Aliet Sarah an outrageous skirt of shaved mink ‘lace.’

As well as these key pieces of design furniture from the house of Fendi, Silvia offered access to the home of Fendi: Her invitation included a portfolio of family images, her grandmother’s lemon pesto recipe, and two packs of double-F logo pasta shapes by Rummo with which to try it. “I wanted to talk about values,” she explained. “At this time to just talk about fashion seems not enough. I wanted to talk about the values that are behind fashion, and I can tell you that there are a lot. In my family we have always put great meaning into what we do. Here I wanted to achieve clothes that are about the moment, but which also are part of your life, for your life.” By presenting clothes and accessories that whispered of past manifestations of Fendi’s history Silvia was also looking to a future in which garments function as cherished furniture, ever more redolent with memories and meaning in a long and fruitful life.

Fendi Spring 2021 RTW.
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