#SuzyCouture: All Roads Lead to Rome for Fendi Haute Couture
13th July 2021
Fendi reconnected with its Roman roots for its Autumn/Winter 2021 Haute Couture collection, in a truly stunning display masterminded by Silvia Venturini Fendi and British designer Kim Jones, Fendi’s Artistic Director of Women’s Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear and Fur. (He is also the Creative Director of Dior Menswear, so is the artistic force behind two household-name brands at LVMH.)
Silvia and Kim wanted to work together on a film, and where better than at Cinecittà, the legendary Roman film studio known as “Hollywood on the Tiber”? Its hallowed halls have nurtured a long list of famous directors who have changed the course of cinematic history – including Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese – and such beloved films as La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday.
Joining this roll call of Cinecittà’s cinematic greats was Luca Guadagnino, director of I Am Love, A Bigger Splash and Call Me by Your Name, who was commissioned by Silvia and Kim to collaborate with them on their Haute Couture film, while Kate Moss served as narrator. Currently in Ohio working on another project, Guadagnino directed Fendi’s models over Zoom – the future is now! I was invited on set to watch him scrutinise on screen the movements of Moss and her daughter Lila Grace, 18, as well as Christy Turlington, Amber Valletta and Mariacarla Boscono, as they walked with slow grandeur, their dresses sweeping along a set composed of pale-coloured terraces and a backdrop of historic Roman buildings.
Kim wanted Guadagnino to capture the unique spirit of Rome immortalised by Pier Paolo Pasolini, but through a Fendi-inspired lens. “Rome is a fascinating city because it has so many pasts – and I was drawn to Pasolini because I have always been inspired by his vision of the world,” Kim explained. “He is something of an outsider in Roman history, but one whose voice remains constant.”
“Pasolini observed Rome become modern, and that is what is interesting to me: Connecting eras, the old with the new, the past with the present.”
“I really love this collection and it is nice to have it as a considered, planned film,” Kim said. “I know it will last longer. Fashion is so fast now, especially when you’re on social media. You click through, refresh – and it is history. Fashion should last longer.”
“Rome is not the fashion capital of Italy, but it is the couture capital, so it is nice to celebrate it and bring in the cinema, which Silvia loves so much,” Kim explained. “For the first time, I am working with the family while they are alive, which by all present analysis is very interesting,” Kim said. “I look at the pillars of what the Fendi house stands for – I don’t think about myself and then I work within what the brand is,” he explained of his process. “I have had so much time to reflect in the last year when we were locked in our houses for so long. I did a lot of preparation work and thinking about things.”
“It’s so interesting to hear all the stories about mother and grandmother, and how it’s evolved,” he continued. “It’s very much female-dominated. So I’m listening to all the women in the room when we are working.”
Silvia Venturini Fendi was equally enthusiastic about the change in creative direction following the death of Fendi’s previous master couturier, the late Karl Lagerfeld. “It’s exciting to see the evolution of a brand that is almost 100 years old,” Silvia said. “I like to see things with my own eyes, but it is interesting to see how somebody else interprets it. Through Kim, I can see different aspects, so it is exciting.”
As the models glowed like ancient Roman goddesses in their trompe l’oeil embellished dresses, on which Jones managed to suggest the immortal allure of Italian stone, Fendi’s CEO Serge Brunschwig enthused, “We are proud of what we are doing because it is fantastic workmanship and there is all this beauty behind it.”
The other Kim – Kim Kardashian – joined me at the private view. “I am always fascinated by how Kim can work on so many projects that are so different, and how your brain would have to turn on and off,” she said. “He goes from Dior Men’s to this – super-elegant and feminine. I can imagine doing a couture show is a lot of pressure, but it must be great to be so creative.”
The distinctive jewellery for the collection was designed by Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Silvia’s daughter, on the encouragement of Silvia and Kim.
“This is not high jewellery,” she said. “The preciousness comes not so much from a precious material, but [from the fact that] everything is handmade and unique. I worked with old Italian marble – like you see the statues made of. I did a mosaic both in marble and mother of pearl – which is something which has not been done in jewellery before.”
The last wise words came from Silvia, who worked with Karl Lagerfeld for her entire life. “I think Karl saw me when I was born – he was like a family presence – it was like having a sixth brother after five sisters! It’s really interesting to this new Fendi woman come to life in Kim’s eyes.”