Fendi’s Fall-Winter 2024 show was all about the music.
Until it wasn’t.
On Saturday, in Milan, the Fendi show space on via Solari was transformed into a sleek brutalist enclave, with metallic seating arranged in the form of the brand’s iconic interlocking F logo. The lights were dimmed completely, and then, out of nowhere, they were on, with thumping music — enough to startle this writer.
Quickly, though, the soundtrack did what good soundtracks do — it set the tone, with music that seemed to cue up each model’s entrance onto the runway. Guests were bobbing their heads and tapping their feet to the beat. The stripped-down venue, metallic seating and rattling bass made the space feel like a rave.
It was an interesting juxtaposition because, instead of leaning into that, Silvia Venturini Fendi presented a collection of clothes that were rooted in reimagined heritage staples, the antithesis of the urban, industrial rave. If the venue and soundtrack hinted at sexy, revealing, logo-heavy clothes, what we got were luxe-but-rugged boat shoes and Wellington boots, fisherman’s vests and waterproof waxed jackets, raglan-sleeved heavyweight wool coats and wide-wale corduroy trousers.
The collection felt like it would have been more at home in the British countryside than in Milan. And that’s exactly what Venturini Fendi wanted to achieve. There were further nods in the form of pants with pleats down the side that called to mind those of kilts (of which the collection featured many). There were plaids and trench coats and car coats that played further into the idea of an elegant weekend getaway at a Scottish castle hunting pheasant and driving antique sports cars — a fresh take to compliment last year’s reworked cashmere sweaters.
The idea and inspiration were interesting, but the real genius lay in the execution of a few pieces. The heritage staples that Venturini Fendi reworked are so well-known that, after seeing one waterproof waxed jacket, guests assumed that the next one would be the same, albeit in a different colour. But it wasn’t. Instead, we were treated to leather jackets made to resemble waxed canvas, cut in the classic shape of a hunting jacket, pockets and all. And while there were the aforementioned wide-wale corduroy trousers, the collars on the jackets weren’t corduroy, as they traditionally are. Instead, they’re meticulously etched suede or sturdy leather with pick-stitch detailing which gives a regal air that still has an artisanal feel.
As one got lost in the clothes — daydreaming of a misty Scottish morning walking through fields in luxurious countryside wares — the music pulled you back. Somewhat at odds with the clothes were eye-catching earrings, cleverly reworked to resemble metallic Airpods, a commentary, perhaps, on how ubiquitous they’ve become. Then there were what looked like spherical bags that turned out to be Fendi-branded speakers, made in collaboration with Devialet, that were vibrating with the beat of the Vascellari and Rocco Rampino electronic soundtrack.
Silvia Venturini Fendi has made a habit of zigging when people expect her to zag. It’s safe to say that very few people would have expected her to present such an outdoorsy, heritage-infused offering for the Fendi Fall/Winter 2024 collection. But we’re awfully lucky she did.