Proper Classics. Fendi AW21

Kim Jones‘ first collection for Fendi, which was a haute couture line-up starring the designer’s friends like Demi Moore, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, polarised the audience. Surprisingly, his ready-to-wear debut wasn’t such noteworthy event – no big names among the models, and instead of some sort of Insta-extravaganza, we’ve seen a very classic, proper Fendi collection. Wisely, Jones neither committed himself to reflecting every aspect of the Fendi story, nor contained himself to narrowly defined elements of it. Instead he allowed the collection to unfold for the watcher as the city unfolds for the visitor, a multitude that coalesces towards the impression of a whole. The looks were all in neutral shades, both to reflect the mineral colors of the city and the organic shades that have dominated in Fendi’s history. Spaghetti-fringed furs in contrasting herringbone, striped silk shirting, and the opening loose-sleeved suede bonded mink evoked the period of Fendi’s first great flowering under the stewardship of the founders’ five daughters Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda. It was they who recruited Karl Lagerfeld in 1965, and his great influence was stamped most clearly in a soft tote whose F-framed handle evoked his famous ‘Fun Fur’ of that period. Significantly, many pieces were punctuated with the 1981 ‘Karligraphy’ monogram. The biggest innovation here was the way the topic of fur was handled. The grandest fur on show was a long-haired fox whose raw material had been upcycled from previous pieces. Jones said of upcycled fur “that it is probably more challenging to work with for the artisans, but they enjoy being challenged.” He also pointed to the abundance of by-product shearling and added that his approach in this regard is to balance two questions: “What does the customer want and what can we do ethically?” Maybe this collection wasn’t overly charismatic or loud, but I bet it will do well in the stores next autumn.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Updated Classics. Fendi AW21

While Kim Jones is about to present his vision at Fendi, menswear is Silvia Fendi‘s territory. This collection contained both examples of bed-to-bodega attire, along with gorgeous intarsia shearling coats and powerfully colored piumino pajamas. Hidden in plain sight among them was a look that Silvia Fendi laughingly conceded was arguably this season’s most transgressive: a black evening suit that was made extra thanks to its pajama-acknowledging blue piping and a louchely low double-breasted construction, but which was a black evening suit nonetheless. The collection was all about laid-back and relaxed feel, however layered with luxury. Camel hair topcoats; hooded shearlings; mink liner-jackets – that reflected a collection of pieces she called: “very tactile – so soft you can sleep in them – and also very functional. Clothes that make you feel good. Because I do think that fashion can have a therapeutic aspect.” Accessories included slipper-spats for seamless indoor-outdoor footwear functionality, and mini-trolleys to reflect our shrunken but still aspirational physical horizons. As Fendi demonstrated, many of the garments were reversible to double their dosage of potential therapy. And the population of patients who might benefit, she added, was purposefully broad: “To avoid that fashionista attitude, I like to consider menswear through many different men who keep their personality… I think in the future, fashion is going to be more individualistic, and I wanted to keep that idea in the show.” One attention grabbing aspect was the inclusion of artwork (including that cursive Fendi lettering) by Noel Fielding. Probably best known as a host of more recent series of The Great British Baking Show, Fielding is a stalwart of British alternative comedy – see The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd – of whom Fendi said: “I like him as a man, and he is a multifaceted talent: writing, comedy, music, art. This is something we all have to do today, I think, to change our own skins. And speaking of therapy, in his graphics you can read what you want to see, like colored yarns that have been thrown on the floor to make a pattern.” What Silvia wants, or at least hopes for, she said, is that this collection “will be something that can be worn on the street next winter, and be enjoyed for its bright colors and tactile feel.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.