Identity. Fendi SS23

With Kim JonesFendi, there are ups and downs. The resort 2023 fashion show, which opened New York Fashion Week and celebrated Baguette’s anniversary, was a high. The spring-summer 2023 collection which opened Milan Fashion Week wasn’t entirely bad, but it was… mediocre. One might easily mistake it with a brand like Max Mara or Sportmax. And Fendi isn’t really a brand that fits this profile, lifestyle-wise. The collection’s shots of color, in green and blue and fiery red, were, as Jones said, purposefully projected across a clothes-scape of the neutrals that are key to the Fendi identity in order to generate new freshness to the jolt of recognition. The double-F logo first drafted by Karl Lagerfeld in 2000 was used all over the line-up. Its graphic geometric severity contrasted with the silhouetted botanical relief that Jones said had featured in a ’96-vintage Lagerfeld outing for the house. This featured on pieces including a laser-sliced leather vest and sheer, organza, Fendi-brown racerback dresses and tops. Obi-belt detailing and the inverted masculine tailoring were respectively nods back to the most recent Jones for Fendi Couture collection, and then autumn before that. Explaining this, Jones unpacked part of the process that will allow him to produce 11 collections this year (he thinks) and probably 12 collections next year. He said: “I program it so that if you put fall and then Couture and then this in a row the brand makes sense. And then there will be another to build upon it after this.” Noting that Jones also does four collections a year at Dior Man (plus all the creative direction), this entire statement sounds, well, terrifying.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

New York. Fendi Resort 2023

Fendi got the New York Fashion Week rolling with a bang. For over a month, the Italian brand has been communicating that it’s planning to hit the Big Apple for a big occasion: the Baguette’s 25th birthday. And what made the eternal it-bag so in-demand for the last two decades? Of course, Sex & The City, the most New York show of all the New York shows. “It was almost like a character,” Kim Jones said. “So I thought let’s do the show here, and let’s add in a few curveballs as we always do.” Sarah Jessica Parker, who sat front row with Kate Moss, Kim Kardashian and Lily Allen, approved the project as the IRL Carrie Bradshaw. She was definitely making a mind-list of her favourite looks for the second season of And Just Like That. That Jones is a prodigious collaborator has been well documented, but the match-ups he orchestrated for the celebratory resort 2023 collection were particularly inspired. Tiffany & Co. was brought in to provide the baguettes – as in diamond baguettes. The double-F logo on the Tiffany blue croc Baguette carried by Bella Hadid was pavéd in the precious stones, and the electric colour of her silk jumpsuit was 100% Tiffany blue.

Another quintessential New York addition: the Marc Jacobs collaboration. Jacobs’s section riffed on his recent collections with block letter intarsias spelling out FendiRoma rather than his own logo on everything from tracksuits and trucker jackets and matching jeans to an oversize terry robe. The faux fur XXL hats, which we’ve seen the last time on his autumn-winter 2012 runway, wowed the audience just like they did a decade ago. “I called Marc up and asked him if he wanted to design a collection for Fendi. I haven’t been involved at all,” Jones explained the collab. “We worked side by side during fittings. We were doing ours, he was doing his. I’m looking very much at 1997, and I think Marc’s is fresh and now.” Jones was after more of a feeling. “I was thinking about when I was first coming to New York and we would go out clubbing,” he said. Hence the irreverent, high/low mix of sequins and utility jackets, or a shearling sherpa and a mini. He meant what he said about utility. Even beanies and gaiters came with built-in Baguettes, as did many of the garments, those shearling sherpas most temptingly. Surprisingly, it all felt very early Sex & The City and Patricia Field style. For the kicker, Linda Evangelista, who is the current face of Fendi, glided out, resplendent in an opera cape, with a sterling silver Baguette bag in the crook of her arm. Jacobs, who joined Jones and Venturini Fendi for a bow, encouraged everyone to stand up – not that the crowd needed any convincing.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Clean and Sleek. Fendi AW22 Couture

This haute couture season, it seemed that the collections’ backdrops were as important as the clothes. Immense theatralization of the fashion show was a recurring theme, from Schiaparelli to Margiela. So it was quite refreshing to see the total white-cube space as Fendi’s venue. But did Kim Jones‘ couture line-up stand up for itself? “Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress.” Karl Lagerfeld coined this permanently true aphorism – one of the sparkling fashion quotes he dashed off in a zillion interviews. Kim Jones didn’t drop it into backstage conversation about his Fendi haute couture collection, but he might’ve, since essentially what he sent out met the Lagerfeldian standard of t-shirt-y elegance; a show of uncomplicated, minimal dressing realized in the most expensive of materials. For starter, a trio of Max-Mara-like looks, two tailored trouser suits and a long turtleneck sweater dress with a slashed skirt and sash in a Vicuna brown. Then came tailoring, and a molded bustier in paler shades of slightly pink-tinged beige: Fendi’s specialty calf leather. And then, calmly on with the abbreviated lines of the t-shirt dressing. There were slim tank dresses, made of rolled metallic bugle-beads, asymmetrical long-sleeved patchworks of Japanese silk kimono fabric commissioned by Jones from traditional makers in Kyoto, and beaded deco-style pajamas. Jones explained in a preview that the pair of outstandingly lovely shimmery silver sequinned bias cut slip dresses had been made from swatches Karl Lagerfeld had commissioned which had been archived and never used. For the finale there were a few spicier, sheer “nude” dresses. In overall, it all looked like a proper couture collection. Not sure it felt like a Fendi one, though, even with all the subtle Lagerfeld references.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Men’s – Full Bloom. Dior SS23

At Dior, Kim Jones does what he does best: combining contemporary elegance with art references, creating menswear that’s profound and desirable. For spring-summer 2023, the show’s venue was about two houses, joined by a garden in full bloom. Jones’s models were wending their way through the greenery from Granville in Normandy on the coast of France to Charleston in Sussex in the rural south of England. The designer had found yet another pathway to connect the patrimony of Christian Dior with his own Englishness, via his own obsession with collecting the arts, crafts, and literature of the early 20th century bohemian Bloomsbury Group. Charleston Farmhouse was owned by the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who pursued their early 20th century free-love gender non-conforming lifestyle with guests in the isolated countryside away from London. Being English, Grant also adored cultivating the garden. Kim found a way to merge his translations of tailored Dior-referenced couture refinement with relevant, relatable, outdoor technical kit. This has always been Jones’s home territory as an experienced designer who was born to a love of traveling, trekking, and living outdoors. That’s his appeal to a huge young global fanbase. There were double-layer shorts, backpacks, zippy camo-jackets, poshed-up gardening hats and Dior ankle-length wellies. Sweaters – his Dior seasonal collectibles – were based on the artworks he owns by Duncan Grant. Where we saw Christian Dior himself was in the tea-rose and gray palette; a salute to the romantic legend of the haute couture house. Dior was raised amongst the roses of his mother’s garden at the Granville house, which his family lost in a 1930s crash. Those roots might not matter all that much to a modern viewer, but Jones is always conscious of keeping those roots alive.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

ERLification. Dior Men Resort 2023

You could see the crest of a 30-foot blue nylon wave from several blocks away on Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach, part of the impressive ocean-themed runway set design that was constructed for Dior Men’s show last night. With Californian designer Eli Russell Linnetz of ERL signed on as the house’s latest guest designer, it made sense that creative director Kim Jones would choose to show the capsule collection against the backdrop of this well known Los Angeles beachfront. “I grew up in Venice Beach, I came to this street all the time,” said Linnetz speaking at a preview before the show. “This was basically my backyard.” Linnetz’s story is straight out of Hollywood. A film student turned designer, he cut his teeth in Kanye West’s artistic studio, directing videos for the likes of Teyana Taylor. Since launching his ERL brand in 2018, his fanbase has swelled year on year and includes the likes of A$AP Rocky and Hailey Bieber. He’s also one of several bright young finalists up for this year’s LVMH Prize. “We have lots of people in common,” said Jones, explaining that the pair were introduced by mutual friends and started the conversation over DM about a year ago. When Jones arrived at ERL HQ in Venice Beach to work on the capsule, their creative chemistry was almost instant. “I was 99% excited at the idea, 1% scared that I would lose myself, just because Kim has such a strong vision of the world and his collections are so refined and striking. My world is so much more chaotic,” said Linnetz. “But the second Kim came to the studio, it felt easy, seamless.” 

The pair used Linnetz’s date of birth, 1991, as a jumping off point for the collection, mining the Dior archives for clothes created that year. “I think people would assume that I would be more into the Galliano archive because it’s so theatrical, but actually through my research I become more interested in diving into something that hadn’t been touched before,” said Linnetz. They landed on the maximalist elegance of Gianfranco Ferré’s designs for the French House, the kind of opulent tailoring you might have seen sauntering down Rodeo Drive at the time. Cue the opening look, a gently padded silk satin suit in Dior’s signature dove gray created with the lining twisted inside out and worn with wide-legged pants puddling over chunky skater sneakers. It was a sweet marriage of Parisian executive realness and SoCal cool, or what you might call “California Couture,” a slogan that appeared on at least a few cozy turtleneck sweaters.  Several of ERL’s quirky design flourishes were filtered through a sophisticated lens. There were baggy skater boy shorts galore, only done for evening with an eye-catching beaded trim. Clearly Linnetz and Jones had a lot of fun dreaming up the accessories. According to Linnetz, the pillbox hats worn backwards with beaded veils were a cheeky nod to Jackie O. Strung on a heavy duty gold chain and worn across the body, the tiny tinsel saddle bags were a very elevated take on the classic skater keychain wallet that are bound to be a hit with Dior Men’s streetwise fashion guys alongside those ingenious sneakers. The yin-yang motif Linnetz is known for got a look in too and was rendered in an intricate embellished wave on a gray marl hoodie. “It’s interesting to see how Kim works because he really approaches everything like a film director,” said Linnetz. “And that’s very familiar to me.” In a sense the bigger picture here felt decidedly fresh, an example of what can happen when two creative minds from seemingly different ends of the fashion spectrum – and different sides of the world – come together to exchange ideas and find common ground. In the new fashion landscape, playing it safe hardly feels modern. Exchanging ideas in a freewheeling way is the new wave. 

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited