Few names carry more weight in fashion than Fendi. Even fewer represent the living legacy that Silvia Venturini Fendi is building. Since 1994, Fendi has served as creative director of menswear, accessories, and children at the nearly century-old Roman fashion house that bears her family’s name, and she is one of two remaining family members still at the company (her daughter, jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez, also works with the brand).
Overseeing the men’s collections, Fendi has been building a contemporary wardrobe that marries the house’s heritage (Fendi began as a specialist fur and leather house) with a thoroughly modern sensibility. And her Fall/Winter 2021 collection is no different. Jewel-toned reversible workwear and relaxed outerwear elevate classic menswear to luxurious heights; diagonal quilting inflates silk jacquard separates — from a shawl-collar lounge coat to pullovers to shirt jackets — to create a cocooning effect; “inside-out” tailoring features deconstructed panels that expose padded FF-monogrammed linings. The Fendi man wants his clothes to be as fun as they are functional.
Here, Fendi shares her secrets.
As a member of the Fendi family, how important is legacy to you?
I feel a big [sense of] pride to be part of the company, not just because I’m a Fendi but because I bring something to the vision of the company. I also feel a big responsibility, which you always do as a designer and when your name is on the door. The heritage of a house is so important — you have to embrace it and respect it. You have to take into consideration the DNA of the company. It comes quite naturally for me to say “Oh, that’s so Fendi” when I see something.
How have you managed to keep Fendi so contemporary?
Fendi has always been very open to embracing change. I think this blend of tradition and avant-garde is something that is so natural at Fendi because we always say that “nothing is impossible.” We like to take new risks — to look at new possibilities and place them in contrast with our old rules. We always question ourselves. The moment you think you are good is the moment you make a big mistake.
The Fall/Winter 2021 menswear collection was really tactile — clothes you wanted to touch — but also functional, incorporating reversible pieces. What were your references for this collection? What were you inspired by?
I wanted to have clothes for this moment in time — informed by this moment in time. I don’t think you can talk about fashion right now with inspiration from anywhere else but our near future.
I think we find ourselves more open to everything, even if we are confined. We had to change our habits so much and we’ve demonstrated how flexible we are and how open we are to what is happening. To me, Noel Fielding represents this. Noel is an icon of the London underground scene — a multidisciplinary artist and performer. He brought a series of psychedelic artworks to the collection, abstracting the Fendi logo and emphasizing the season’s cosmic spirit through his multicoloured, stream-of-consciousness scribble art. These graphics really represent the moment we are living in. They are like tangles of yarns, interweaving and blending into each other, like threads of hope.
How do you balance being a designer while overseeing so many different parts of such a big business?
I believe it’s important to talk about how values are connected to fashion. In my case, being raised in my family, fashion was meaningful and a special bond for us all.
What’s it like working alongside and collaborating with Kim Jones?
I am very happy to be working with Kim, as he is a dear friend. Kim really started from the roots of Fendi, looking from the very beginning and then mixing some of the new things — for example, the “Karligraphy”: the logo Karl Lagerfeld designed in the ’80s. Like mixing different time frames, putting different logos and references together. In every look there is a story to tell about Fendi; this is what I like.
How has COVID-19 impacted Fendi and your own approach to fashion?
I think that it’s absolutely impossible to disregard the unsettling moment we are living through, which definitely pushed us to redefine hierarchies and priorities. The whole fashion industry, which has always looked so perched on its pedestal and untouchable, had to reconsider everything.
I was worried at the start of lockdown, thinking about the time that was being lost working on the collections, but I saw that we can solve problems and sort them out. I used to think about things in an obsessive way; today, I am more detached, and it’s liberating.
Menswear has been a fast-growing category for the past decade, and men are dressing with more freedom and fluidity than ever before. Where do you see the future of menswear taking us?
For menswear at Fendi, I feel the need to deliver garments which are impeccable but that also make you feel good and comfortable. I like to consider menswear through many different men who keep their personality. I think that, in the future, fashion is going to be more individualistic.
I think that fashion should be considered a tool to find a new balance for ourselves, almost in a holistic way.